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Diabetes: A Growing Concern in Long-Term Care Facilities

Aug 2, 2005

26 percent of nursing home residents have diabetes.

In the United States, half of all diabetes cases occur in individuals aged 55 and older. In addition,. As the fifth-deadliest disease in the country, diabetes predominance in the elderly is a leading cause of skyrocketing healthcare costs, with one in every 10 healthcare dollars spent on diabetes. Facilities should develop a strategy to prevent, monitor and manage diabetes and promote better health in residents.

According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 18.3 percent of the population 60 years and older, or 8.6 million people, has diabetes. Because the risk for Type 2 diabetes increases with age, facilities should take proactive measures to screen residents for symptoms and test high-risk patients. The American Medical Directors Association (AMDA) suggests the following steps to evaluate diabetes management programs.
— Assess the current diabetes situation
— Screen high-risk patients who have not been diagnosed with diabetes
— Order appropriate lab tests to determine the resident’s condition
— Assess the patient’s hyperglycemia and identify the cause
— Confirm diabetes diagnosis
— Evaluate the nature and severity of diabetic complications
— Obtain input from staff who have worked with the resident
— Summarize the patient’s condition
— Develop an individualized care plan and define treatment goals
— Address causes and complications with the resident and caregivers
— Use oral hypoglycemia agents or insulin as necessary
— Implement the care plan
— Re-evaluate the patient at regularly scheduled intervals
— Routinely monitor the patient’s blood glucose levels

With ever-changing technology and a disease that can be relatively controlled through diet and exercise, it is imperative that a facility regularly evaluates the status of its diabetes management program.

"Evaluation is key when implementing a diabetes management program," said Conn. "Facilities need to ensure their staffs are staying up-to-date on the latest and greatest tools."

It is not always easy to stay abreast on a disease that has new drugs, devices, guidelines and techniques constantly evolving. Facilities can keep their management programs up-to-date by making available continuing education unit (CEU) programs that showcase new technology and techniques to manage their residents’ conditions.

Continuing education programs can be a valuable method for keeping current on the various aspects of diabetes care. Hypoguard offers a video-based CEU program that provides valuable insights and information to help nurses and other healthcare professionals understand the key areas of assessment. The course also reviews clinical goals and variables involved in the evaluation and management of patients with diabetes in long-term care facilities.

Effective communication can greatly enhance diabetes management outcomes. It’s important for the healthcare professionals caring for the resident to stay properly informed on the resident’s condition, as there are various medications and treatment regiments. They also must be made aware of any complications.

In addition to a continuing education program, Hypoguard offers on-site training and product evaluation to ensure blood glucose monitoring systems are being properly utilized. Further showcasing its commitment to the LTC industry, Hypoguard’s knowledgeable sales force offers facilities a QA/QC Manual that includes product information, training checklists, and QA/QC policies, procedures and forms, which are often needed for state surveys.

For more information on diabetes education programs for long-term care facilities, email, 1-800-818-8877.

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