November is Diabetes Awareness Month (DAM) which is an important time to increase awareness about diabetes as a widespread public health concern. DAM emphasizes the collective and individual actions required for improved prevention, diagnosis, and management of the condition, and Scarborough Health Network (SHN) is doing our part with new initiatives to improve diabetes care in 2023-2024!
Research indicates that there is a strong prevalence of diabetes in individuals of Asian, South Asian, and Caribbean descent. Much of Scarborough’s population is comprised of these cultural backgrounds, contributing to high rates of diabetes. In fact, 29 out of 30 Scarborough neighbourhoods are above the City of Toronto average for rates of diabetes. That amounts to almost 100,000 people in Scarborough living with the condition.
Recognizing the importance of addressing our community’s needs, SHN is making changes in 2023-2024 to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of diabetic care in Scarborough:
- SHN is taking part in the Scarborough Ontario Health Team’s Regional Diabetes Working Group, which is collaboratively developing a Diabetes Care Pathway for Scarborough, ensuring equitable and coordinated access to diabetes care across the system.
- Our Nephrology and Chronic Disease department is streamlining SHN’s diabetes services across all three sites into a unified program at the Bridletowne Neighbourhood Center. This will enhance care consistency, increase capacity, and improve efficiency to accommodate more patients.
- SHN is enhancing diabetes care models to address patient needs, including the implementation of on-site retinal eye exams performed by trained staff, as well as the addition of a foot care Registered Nurse, who will improve access to essential diabetes services (such as the mitigation of limb loss). Building retinal and foot care directly into our Diabetes program will make it easier on patients and allow faster access to services, potentially preventing complications in these two areas common to diabetes patients.
- The recent implementation of the Indigenous Patient Navigator role will improve care planning, access, and cultural safety for Indigenous patients, specifically addressing the prevalence of diabetes in the Indigenous population and the need for culturally appropriate care.
These initiatives mark SHN’s commitment to fostering a healthier community, ensuring improved prevention, diagnosis, and management of diabetes for all.
SHN would like to thank our Endocrinologists, Diabetes Nurse Specialists, Clinical Practice Leaders for Nephrology, and Medical and Patient Care Directors of Nephrology and Disease Management for their continued work in maintaining the SHN Diabetes Education Centres and Centre for Complex Diabetes Care: two important programs that provide care to those in our community living with diabetes. For our patients, receiving expert diabetes care and education is vital for their ability to successfully manage the condition, and prevent and treat short- and long-term complications.
To learn more about access to diabetic care and the prevalence of this disease today, read about Diabetes Canada’s campaign for DAM 2023 here: https://www.diabetes.ca/let-s-make-time-to-end-diabetes.