The 14th of November marks World Diabetes Day. Every year, World Diabetes Day focuses on a dedicated theme to spread the message around diabetes and raise awareness for the condition. The theme for World Diabetes Day 2022 is ‘Access to Care: Access to Diabetes Education’. Roughly 10% of adults now lives with diabetes, and millions globally lack access to diabetes care.
With COVID-19 still prevalent, diabetes prevention and treatment are becoming more critical. Not only do people with diabetes have a higher risk of getting severe COVID-19 when infected, many are lacking access to necessary treatments due to disruptions to essential health services that have occurred during this pandemic.
Supporting employees with diabetes in your workplace
Diabetes can impact an employee’s ability to do everyday things, especially if they have developed complications. It is important to understand the needs of your employees with diabetes and ensure they feel supported as much as possible.
To improve the health of those in your workforce diagnosed with diabetes, providing ongoing education on nutrition and medication, guidance on how to self-monitor their condition and access to regular check-ups with health professionals are extremely beneficial.
Employees with diabetes may also have higher levels of sickness absence for health check-ups. Thus, organisations should have a risk assessment in place for the job they do as well as a contingency plan in place for when they become unwell or unable to perform their work. This shall be done in the respect of the confidentiality of their health condition.
Testing is also important for people with diabetes to monitor their blood glucose levels, and this may need to be done regularly throughout their day. For some employees, injecting medication and testing blood glucose levels can be quite personal, so provision and adjustments should be considered in the workplace, so they can do these in a private and hygienic space. Employers should also consider giving regular break time for employees to administer their tests and administer insulin injections.
Since the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is linked to an individual’s lifestyle, organisations should also promote ways to encourage healthy living among their workforces. Initiatives could include offering free fruit, discounted gym membership and putting policies in place to encourage work-life balance, healthy eating as well as regular physical activities. These practices not only help to create a healthier, more effective workforce but can also support your entire workforce in reducing their risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Being diagnosed and living with diabetes may often feel overwhelming. It can be difficult to come to terms with the fact that diabetes is a life-long condition and making lifestyle changes can be a challenge for some. Stressful situations can affect blood glucose levels and impact the diabetes management of a diabetic employee. Therefore, organisation’s support for employees with diabetes should also be complemented with access to counselling and psychological assistance, especially for newly diagnosed employees.
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- IDF Diabetes Atlas