Donna Crake is a Diabetes Inpatient Specialist Nurse (DISN) and works for West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Here, she tells us about how she developed her passion in the diabetes care, her training and support for Diabetes UK.
My role involves assisting adult inpatients living with diabetes when they are on acute hospital wards. I provide diabetes support and education, and specialist diabetes knowledge to both patients and colleagues.
As healthcare professionals, our focus is to give patients information and tools to self-manage their diabetes. But with so little time and an ever-increasing workload, educating people is an ongoing challenge.
Everything is done to fulfil best practice and give the best possible care for our patients. Making the time to sit and listen to patients really counts and can add more value to their lives.
I completed my nurse training as a mature student, qualifying in 2020 just as the Covid-19 pandemic was confirmed.
During my training, one of my placements was on the specialist diabetes ward. I was fortunate enough to experience a diabetes education course called Diabetes Education and Self-Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed (DESMOND), which sparked an interest in diabetes care.
This led me to complete my dissertation about diabetes called, ‘How can nurses promote self-management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus’.
The most gratifying part of my role is contact with people admitted to hospital. I have the privilege to be able to help and care for people when they are acutely unwell in hospital and at their most vulnerable. It’s rewarding to see what a difference our diabetes inpatient service makes throughout patients’ stays.
It can be challenging to keep up to date with all areas of diabetes, such as technology, medications and overall care and best practice.
The evidence and guidance for diabetes management and medications are so vast and forever changing. As DISNs, we need to be able to navigate, understand and critique the most recent evidence-based research, so that we can discuss individualised diabetes care with our patients.
Of course, the challenges across the whole nursing profession such as time restraints, lack of resources, large workload and understaffing have also impacted my role.
This is why Diabetes UK is such a useful resource for both healthcare professionals and people living with diabetes. Its website includes the most up-to-date and reliable information and offers professional education such as conferences, online learning and webinars.
Fundraising for Diabetes UK
In 2021, my family and I raised £800 for Diabetes UK. Our Christmas lights are famous in our community, and I used them to help raise awareness of diabetes. We were joined by some people living with diabetes, including twin boys, and also featured in our local paper. I hope to raise even more money and awareness for Diabetes UK in the future.
In my free time, I enjoy running and going to the gym. This is balanced out by my love of cheese and wine! I love to go walking, read and spend time with family and friends especially my blue staffie Frankie, she is the apple of my eye.
I recently completed a level seven course for the advanced management of diabetes, which was facilitated through the University of Essex. I found it consolidated my initial diabetes learning, which I could apply within my role and help to expand and develop the diabetes service within the trust I work.
I attended my first TREND diabetes national conference, which was held in London in the summer of 2022 and found the speakers and presentations so inspiring and motivating.
Getting together with other healthcare professionals and sharing experiences, practice and new ideas help keep me motivated and driven. I also spend time watching webinars and forums on diabetes research and management. I find these extremely informative and a good way to keep up with the latest developments.
We continue to expand and progress the diabetes inpatient service within my trust. We have just implemented seven-day working, aiming to minimise patient stay in the hospital and work within the multidisciplinary team to facilitate more complex discharges and further support patients and colleagues.
We are also welcoming back face-to-face teaching for healthcare workers within the trust with new and energising programmes, such as new staff trust inductions, diabetes study days, bitesize sessions and workshops.
This is exciting as it gives me and my colleagues the opportunity to not just educate colleagues on diabetes but to also build strong working relationships with people working on the wards. Also, there are also so many exciting innovations in diabetes care and things are changing all the time. It’s an exciting time.
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