Nurse champions promote diabetes health at Sunnybrook

At Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, education and support play a key role in helping patients successfully manage their diabetes, whether they are newly diagnosed or have been living with diabetes for years.

“There were 13,000 orders for diabetes drugs for more than four thousand inpatients at Sunnybrook during 2012, which tells us there is plenty of demand for diabetes support among our patients,” says Julie Paterson, Diabetes Nurse Educator at Sunnybrook.

Sunnybrook has been working to meet that demand by implementing the Diabetes Nurse Champions program. The Champions have been working to improve diabetes knowledge, along with the quality of care and education provided for diabetic patients throughout the Community and Brain Sciences Programs. Nurses from a variety of areas, including the hemodialysis, general medicine, intensive care and in-patient mental health units, meet on a bi-monthly basis to ensure that inpatients are receiving an appropriate amount of education and support.

A further service available to patients is the Sunnybrook Diabetes Education Program (SUNDEC), which offers classes and individual counseling by registered dietitians and diabetes nurse educators.

“The SUNDEC team helps diabetic patients to make healthy food choices, incorporate exercise into their daily routine, understand the role of medication, and set realistic and achievable goals,” says Paterson. To maximize the number of patients that can benefit from this service, SUNDEC accepts self-referrals from patients. The office can be reached by calling (416) 480-4805.

An aging population, combined with rising obesity rates and sedentary lifestyles, is putting an increasing number of Canadians at risk for diabetes. In Ontario, the number of people living with diabetes is expected to rise to 11.9 per cent of the province’s population, or about 1.9 million people, by 2020.

“Getting patients with diabetes the support and education they need now is so important, because it can make such a difference to their health further down the road,” says Paterson.