Helping Health Care Assistants (HCAs) Understand the Basics of Diabetes 

Patients diagnosed with type one or type two Diabetes can often feel overwhelmed with the level of self-care and ongoing management needed to control their condition. This can have a profound psychological impact on them, which can lead to diabetic patients developing depression and anxiety that can make managing their diabetes more difficult.

HCAs and other medical support staff must understand how Diabetes can impact patients’ quality of life and psychological well-being and how managing it can affect many different aspects of their life, from their careers to relationships and their social life.

As medical professionals, we know that following a healthy diet and exercise routine and regular monitoring of blood glucose levels can lead to improved mental, physical and emotional health. However, this can be hard work for many patients and feelings of anxiety, and depression can lead to poor control of their diabetes, resulting in poor health outcomes.

Development of depression

Individuals who have Diabetes are up to three times more likely to report symptoms of depression, which can be debilitating. It is estimated that it costs the NHS an extra £1.8 billion in support costs for people with type two Diabetes with poor mental health. Poor mental and emotional well-being can lead diabetic patients to feel less inclined to monitor blood glucose levels, which then leads to poor self-management and control.

Patients with Diabetes who feel depressed often feel lethargic and sluggish and will be less inclined to take regular exercise. Low mood and lethargy can also impact food choices, meaning patients can easily choose to eat processed convenience foods and consume more alcohol rather than pay attention to their diet. Depression can also impact on quality of sleep, which can seriously affect health and quality of life.

People with Diabetes can also suffer emotional distress through constantly worrying about their blood glucose levels, being afraid of developing diabetes complications, and feeling angry or frustrated with having to live with their condition. 

Diabetes UK and NICE have recognised the importance of psychological and emotional well-being in patients who have Diabetes. Health professionals can help to provide the most appropriate follow-up care for these patients by distinguishing between symptoms of depression or Diabetes-related emotional distress. 

Referral for the proper support can positively impact their patient’s mental and emotional well-being and receiving more integrated care would improve patient outcomes and quality of life.

PDUK provides professional medical education, practical courses, and workshops for nursing staff, HCAs, and associated medical professionals. We recommend the following course for HCAs in primary and secondary care.

A63 Diabetes basics for HCAs

This course provided by PDUK has been designed to deliver a basic understanding of diabetes diagnosis for HCAs in primary and secondary care. It will help HCAs develop sound knowledge and skills in managing patients who have Diabetes with confidence. 

The course is ideal for Health Care Assistants and Health Care Support Workers involved with caring for patients with type one and two diabetes. This one-day course is conducted over seven hours and runs between 10:00 am- 4:30 pm. All course materials will be provided, including evaluation forms and attendance certificates. 

The aims and objectives of the A63 Diabetes basics for HCAs course include the following:

  • Discuss current guidelines relating to the management and monitoring of diabetic patients.
  • Understand the classification and diagnosis of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
  • Be aware of the causes, symptoms, and progressions of Diabetes.
  • Apply the principles of monitoring and managing patients with Diabetes to your clinical practice and annual review.
  • Use the ’empowerment approach’ to work in partnership with these patients, their carers, and their families.