Diabetes learning and support in lockdown

This feature shows the efforts being made to keep people with diabetes safe, supported and supplied with their vital bits of kit, from blood test sensors to pumps as well as ways to learn more about gaining and keeping good control whether in lockdown or not.

Editor’s comment: It’s been a learning curve (it’s all about curves these days), with many of us finally taking part in our first remote clinic appointment or calling a GP from our homes using a video call. Some of us might have been pleasantly surprised by the experience and saved time on the visit by not having to travel to it. It is the new normal, at least for now. Here’s a round-up of what companies and services in the diabetes healthcare sector. I can personally attest to the great work being done on our behalves. Additionally, many have redoubled efforts to improve self-care from home. Virtual learning that had only really been whispered about has in fact turned out to be vital in keeping services going. Staying connected for our diabetes health (and arguably our mental health too), is the new normal. From video GP appointments to ‘remote pump starts’, it’s all go right now. So dive in, if you can find the time! – Sue Marshall

Abbott (FreeStyle brand, including Libre)
The challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic have forced frontline workers to find ways to limit unnecessary exposure between themselves and patients, especially people with diabetes. With clinics and consultations disrupted, Abbott is committed to helping patients and their healthcare teams to stay connected remotely, so they can stay safe and stay well.

Dedicated resources for people with diabetes to support and guide diabetes management during this time are available in this issue on p.tk. They include the Abbott FreeStyle Digital Ecosystem to connect patients with their healthcare team or caregivers, at no cost, keeping them connected even when they can’t meet in person; and the FreeStyle Academy with bite-sized education modules, webinars and tutorials.

Here also is a video about an update to LibreView that helps people connect and more easily share their glucose data with their HCP directly through the app. Via LibreView, your healthcare team is able to see your glucose data as you scan your sensor. The FreeStyle LibreLink app automatically transfers the data. If you use a FreeStyle Libre reader you can upload your data using the yellow cable provided. You just need to connect your account with your healthcare team via your LibreView account. www.freestylelibre.co.uk

Rob Schumm, Ascensia Diabetes Care

Ascensia Diabetes Care (Contour Next brand)
Rob Schumm speaking for Ascensia Diabetes Care has been considering how much of a game-changer the pandemic has been for healthcare providers. Here are some of his thoughts: “A video conference with your healthcare provider. Weekly shopping delivered to the door. Exercising with Joe Wicks at 9am on YouTube. Zoom calls with friends and family. Who would have guessed at the start of 2020 that this would be the new norm?

The pandemic has created challenges for all. Thankfully, due to technological advances, COVID-19 has not put the brakes on diabetes management. Quite the opposite. The current situation appears to have acted as a catalyst for greater adoption. For example, as people with diabetes shield and self-isolate, they are now attending routine medical appointments remotely, by phone or video, and are sharing their BGM and CGM data using cloud-based software. This is today’s reality.

As a company that specializes in diabetes technology, at Ascensia we have been looking at ways to make our solutions and support more useful for people with diabetes, and at innovations we need to develop to facilitate effective diabetes management. Indeed, COVID-19 may accelerate innovation and change the way care is delivered years after this crisis. The number of video-based medical interactions has grown exponentially since March, showing that face-to-face appointments may not always be needed. Indeed, this shows it is only really necessary when a healthcare provider needs to physically interact with a person with diabetes, for example to take blood, check feet or coach someone on the use of new equipment.

Shifting the delivery of care to a greater level of remote support, could save patients and healthcare systems time and money. However, we should not underestimate the importance of social interaction afforded through in-person appointments, even when a phone call would suffice, particularly when trying to understand someone’s mental health. At a time where many feel more isolated than ever, technology has once again come to the fore. Everyone across the globe is adopting new social media, video and collaboration tools to stay in touch. We have moved from phone to video, we are hosting birthdays and social gatherings remotely – it’s important for our mental health to keep that connection.

So, what does this mean post-COVID? It’s hard to say right now. While I am amazed by technology’s ability to enhance diabetes management, I’m even more impressed with those adopting it and their ability to stay positive, healthy and social throughout this pandemic. For many, COVID-19 has made life and diabetes management more difficult. However, we will come out of it stronger, and with better tools to manage diabetes at our disposal. www.diabetes.ascensia.co.uk

BD’s Chris Maquire

BD (Unifine brand)
Chris Maguire, speaking on behalf of BD, says, “BD is currently supporting those living with Diabetes, by providing free open access to BD and Me to anyone who is injecting insulin. This is to ensure the right advice on injecting insulin safely and in the correct way is available, as we know if this doesn’t happen, people can end up with worse HbA1c, more risk of having a hypo, more chance their blood sugars will swing from high to low and mean they might start using higher doses of insulin to get the same control.

“We are also offering injection technique webinar and classes to hospitals/diabetes centres across the country, which we are carrying out virtually. This is so we can support the education training for those who are new to injecting insulin or those who may need a refresher with the latest evidence and advice. We also have been helping those injecting insulin by providing them aids to help practice correct injection area spacing known as rotation grids and injection technique kits to help ensure best practice.

“We have also been working with the wholesalers, who supply community pharmacies, to ensure that they all have our insulin pen needles available. We make all of our needles in Ireland and have ensured our production levels have been correct to ensure no disruption to those who need them.”

Anyone can register for BD and Me. At the second step of the registration process enter the code UK-01-KQCR.


Dexcom’s Karen Baxter

Dexcom (Dexcom G6 brand)
Dexcom Karen Baxter, Country Director, UK, Ireland & Belgium, is similarly reassuring saying, “At Dexcom, we are tracking the Coronavirus situation closely with three key priorities in mind: keeping our employees safe; serving people with diabetes; and doing what we can to minimise the spread in our community. At this time, there is no interruption to Dexcom’s production and supply chain. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and are committed to communicating with our customers via dexcom.com.”

In addition, the Dexcom web shop has had a revamp. If you a UK residence and are interested in self-funding your Dexcom G6 it’s simpler than ever to order – just head to the newly launched Dexcom web shop by CLICKING HERE.


Medtrum’s Spencer Martin

Medtrum (TouchCare brand)
Spencer Martin, Medtrum’s Business Manager for the UK, tells us, “As soon as we began to comprehend the scale of the impact of coronavirus the first thing we did was check our supply chain: it was not impacted. The second thing we did was to directly send out three months of supplies to each of our existing customers to immediately put their minds at ease. Although our manufacturing is not impacted, we keep a close eye on our logistics and quickly respond if borders are to be closed. Yet – so far – we are confident that we will be able to continue to supply our customers. We had already updated our business software before Covid-19 landed and have multiple channels to connect with people whenever they need to. We listen and respond on all our social media channels, have available ‘virtual pump starts’, and continue to get people onto our pump and CGM systems thereby improving their chances of achieving greater, safer control despite this unprecedented situation.”  www.medtrum.co.uk


Owen Mumford (Autolet, Autopen, Unifine and Unistik pen and needle brands)
Leanne Adam, marketing manager at Oxfordshire-based Owen Mumford, explains how the company has stepped up to the present situation. She explains, “Owen Mumford has continued to provide essential medical devices to the NHS, pharmacies, healthcare providers and patients administering vaccines and medicines throughout the crisis. It has delivered 10 million finger-pricking devices to the Nightingale hospitals alone.

Owen Mumford has also continued to produce injection devices to supply patients with conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and anaphylactic shock who will be self-medicating throughout the lockdown period.

The safety and protection of our employees is paramount and the commitment that they have shown in performing their roles in line within government guidelines has been exemplary. From changing shift patterns, to overcoming the challenges of social distancing, every measure has been taken to ensure Owen Mumford is safely operational throughout this crisis and continues to deliver devices to the people who need them.  We understand that many will be relying on continuity of access to these devices, and we’re proud to be delivering that.”


Roche’s Conn O’Neill

Roche (Accu-Chek brand)
Conn O’Neill, Public Affairs Lead at Roche Diabetes Care UK & Ireland says that the company is continually reviewing the way in which Roche Diabetes Care can further support people with diabetes and healthcare professionals at this time. He says, “We are currently offering free access to mySugr Pro app to people with diabetes in the UK and Ireland to help improve remote diabetes management during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Usually £20.99 per person per year, it can help improve the experience of digital and/or telephone appointments for people with diabetes by providing blood glucose monitoring information remotely.

The diabetes management app allows users to enter blood glucose results from any monitor and is already used by more than 2m registered users worldwide. Users can create and share detailed PDF reports of their aggregated diabetes data with their healthcare team helping healthcare providers to recognise patterns and individualise guidance for more meaningful remote consultations.

In addition, in a bid to mitigate pressures on hospitals and clinicians we have extended all warranties for Accu-Chek Combo and Accu-Chek Insight insulin pumps. Warranties for pumps that were due to expire before the end of September have been extended, initially for three months. We recognised that for people who are approaching the end of their insulin pump warranties, choices about new insulin pumps are often made at group sessions, and pump starts are often also undertaken in groups. With the extended warranty, this will remove the need to attend a group session or visit a healthcare setting.”

Download the mySugr app and unlock the Pro version using the activation code until 30th September 2020, providing12 months free access for each user. www.accu-chek.co.uk/mySugr

Angelina Thorne, Spirit Health


Spirit Health
In a recent blog entitled Managing Diabetes at Home, the New Normal, Angelina Thorne, marketing manager with Spirit Health writes, “COVID-19 has presented the healthcare community with new challenges but also opportunities for changing the pathways to support our vulnerable patients in both the acute and community setting. People with diabetes fall into the highrisk category for contracting COVID-19, and those infected are at a greater risk of developing emergency states of hyperglycaemia and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). New guidelines have been developed across the healthcare system, including care homes, to support healthcare workers in recognising complications and provide guidance on treatment pathways.

Diabetes education is recommended for all newly diagnosed patients. With group programmes suspended until further notice, Spirit has moved its national Empower programme for patients with Type 2 diabetes online, with courses delivered by our educators to small groups of patients in the comfort and safety of their own home.  CCG commissioners have welcomed this move which ensure that patients receive the support and guidance they need. Feedback from people attending the virtual sessions have been positive.

As it is vital that people with diabetes continue to adhere to their medicines routines as advised by their healthcare professionals and online pharmacy, Spirit Pharmacy, is an easy, reliable way to get their prescribed items. We have a special interest in diabetes and provide patients with access to educational support.”  www.spirit-pharmacy.co.uk

Tandem’s Simon Treadwell

TANDEM (Air Liquide Healthcare)
Following the recent lockdown imposed to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the majority of diabetes clinics up and down the country were unable to continue to operate as normal. This had a significant impact on those people who were due to transition to insulin pump therapy or those due to upgrade to a new device. Air Liquide Healthcare was quick to adapt their t:slim X2 pump start training  to maintain a consistent service to patients. The team rolled out a newly developed system in early March which allowed them to deliver virtual t:slim X2 pump starts to patients, their families and in some cases their clinical teams. The training takes place online, via video call, and is broken up into sessions to allow participants a chance to break, digest and reflect between session. The training also involves prework which includes watching a series of online videos about the pump, cartridge fills and how to change infusion sets, as well as reading the t:slim X2 quick start reference guides that are to be followed during the training. Following the training, the team maintain contact with patients for a period of time to support with any additional queries.

Air Liquide Healthcare’s UK Diabetes Business Manager, Simon Treadwell, says, “We’ve seen continued demand for pump starts during lockdown, particularly following the announcement of the launch of our advanced hybrid closed loop software later in the summer. We wanted to do what we could to ensure continuation of service to our patients and clinics and this has proved an effective way to continue supporting people onto our pump. We began offering virtual pump starts to those who were already on a pump and transitioning to a new device but following the success of those pump starts we’ll be virtually training ‘new to pump’ patients too. We appreciate the approach won’t be for everyone, but for those patients who are happy to learn this way it’s been a highly successful method.”

Discussing how the move to virtual pump starts has impacted patients at Southampton General Hospital, Paediatric Diabetes Nurse Specialist Jo Summerton adds,“As a team, we were very anxious about moving into the unknown of ‘virtual pump upgrades’.  On reflection, we needn’t have worried. All parts of the process have been seamless, from the initial communication, to the education delivery and the associated literature and support.  The education delivery has been individually tailored to each of our families, with our Air Liquide Account Manager taking on board information from our team. The technology platform which has been used has worked successfully with all our families and there have not been any obstacles. We will definitely be thinking about utilising these virtual pump upgrades more and more and I think it will change all of our practice moving forward. We’re incredibly grateful to Air Liquide for supporting us during these challenging times.”


Desang Diabetes Magazine is our free-to-receive digital journal (see below). We cover diabetes news, diabetes management equipment (diabetes ‘kit’ such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring equipment) and news about food suitable for a diabetic diet including a regular Making Carbs Count column. We just need your email address to subscribe you (it really is free, and you can easily unsubscribe should you wish to).
Sign me up!
Open publication
Buy a Desang kitbag

See our range of kitbags