Diabetes Ireland is the only charity in Ireland dedicated to helping people with diabetes. On a patient level, the charity is dedicated to providing support, education and motivation to the 225,000 people from children to the elderly with the condition.
On a community level, Diabetes Ireland promotes public awareness of diabetes and its symptoms, as well as funding research into finding a cure.
Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is the most common form of the condition. It is a life-long illness caused by a lack or insufficiency of insulin, a vital substance made by the pancreas, responsible for letting sugar in. With diabetes, the pancreas makes too little insulin to enable the sugar in the blood to get into the muscle and other cells to produce energy. This results in a build-up of sugar into the bloodstream, and therefore high blood sugar levels.
Diabetes overtime can cause many health complications, blood vessel damage, nerve damage, circulation issues and a poor ability to heal. Patients are also increasingly prone to infection affecting the feet and lower limbs, which sadly often results in amputation. 63% of all lower limb amputations are diabetes related.
In 2019 in Ireland alone, 3,468 people were hospitalised for lower limb amputation or acute ulceration. It is estimated that 80% of these cases were preventable with correct and regular management, particularly when it comes to foot care.
Last month, we heard from Kieran O’Leary, Chief Executive of Diabetes Ireland. On the day, we discussed the charity’s grant application for creating and
refurbishing an extra podiatry room at their purpose-build Care Centre in Santry, Dublin, which opened in 2013.
The Care Centre offers a range of services to the diabetes community, with 15,000 patients using it annually. 3,500 people go to the centre to access the
podiatry service for diabetes foot management alone, and this is only increasing
in demand with 13,000 new patients being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes annually (and growing).
Kieran explained that although the plan was always to expand the podiatry service due the increase of diabetes patients, the need to fast track this process has come about due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The past year has seen many
local podiatry services close, therefore adding extra pressure to The Centre, resulting in the recruitment of a third podiatrist and the refurbishment of the
flooring and equipment being pushed forward.
With the addition of another podiatrist, this will also enable Diabetes Ireland to
provide more support and education via online events and webinars. These began during lockdown and have proved to be enormously successful, hosting audiences of about 300 participants each time. They have been beneficial towards reaching and assisting many diabetes patients throughout the country, helping to prevent many of the problems that diabetes causes.
HSF ended up providing a grant of €13,500 to Diabetes Ireland.
To learn more about Diabetes Ireland, visit: diabetes.ie/