DSN Spotlight – Anna Vanderpuye
The role of the diabetes specialist nurse is hugely important in ensuring high-quality diabetes care. Our DSN Spotlight series celebrates this great position and also aims to find out more about those who are making a difference to people with diabetes every day.
Job title: Diabetes Specialist Nurse
Trust: King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
What’s your biggest challenge in diabetes today?
My biggest challenge is the ever increasing number of people out there who are developing diabetes and do not know they are. The number of people globally who are at risk of developing diabetes in countries where resources are limited is also increasing. Availability of expertise and equipment necessary to achieve good health in resource-poor countries may not be as well resourced, trained and recognised.
What’s been your biggest achievement in diabetes care?
Becoming the ‘Star of World Diabetes Day in 2016 in Kings College Hospital Diabetes Centre’. I have been using my annual leave to travel abroad to hold Diabetes Prevention Programmes in Ghana since 2007.
I also hold diabetes awareness sessions over the weekends in markets, on the parks and people inviting me to their communities to educate them on diabetes prevention and raise awareness of diabetes here in the UK.
My biggest achievement will also include the fact that during my diabetes prevention days, I am able to identify members of the public who had undiagnosed diabetes. I believe having such programmes have helped to identify such people with diabetes; then the educated they are given had helped them seek medical care much earlier.
There is such worry to begin with on the faces of people who just get to know they have diabetes. Then there is this sign of relief on their faces after educating and given them letters to seek medical help. I sometimes give them my contact details to keep me informed of their progress and how they are coping.
What would you like to see change in diabetes?
I want to see improved diabetes care for those living in resource-poor countries. I am keen to see people with diabetes globally particularly in resource-poor countries have widened access to medications and insulin. I am so passionate about diabetes prevention that when I hold diabetes prevention programmes, either in the UK, where I live, or when I am aboard, I want the people receiving the education to gain understanding of diabetes and be either empowered themselves or be able to teach others in the most basic form to help live with their diabetes, prevent complications or for those who do not have the disease to understand diabetes prevention.
What’s been the biggest development in the last 10 years?
In my opinion the biggest development in the last 10 years is Diabetes Prevention Programmes. As they say ‘prevention is always superior and better than cure’. I say this because the small scale prevention programmes I have held in the UK and Ghana over the years have yielded such great results.
When I started the prevention programmes years back, at first I thought nothing about it, but as I kept going out the number of people I have picked up who had impaired glucose function or pre-diabetes and did not know until they were checked, opened my eyes to see the importance of the prevention programmes. I believe informed education to help people can change their lifestyles and help prevent complications of diabetes.
What is the best way to achieve good health outcomes with your patients?
Good health can be achieved by empowering patients and relatives to understand the impact of healthy lifestyle and exercise and its central role in prevention of diabetes and its complications.