DSN Spotlight – Erica Richardson
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: Lead Diabetes Specialist Nurse
Trust: Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust
Time in position: I have been Lead since 2013, but I have been a DSN since 2009, prior to that I worked in acute medicine and was one of the diabetes links in that area. I also worked part time as a practice nurse and had particular interest in long-term conditions management.
What’s your biggest challenge in diabetes today?
I think it’s the increasing numbers of patients admitted to hospital with complex diabetes conditions and ensuring they’re getting adequate care and treatment in hospitals. Also making sure hospital healthcare professionals are adequately trained in the care and management of diabetes.
What’s been your biggest achievement in diabetes care?
My biggest achievements so far was when I led the implementation of the Think Glucose referral programme with the Trust. This system highlights referral criteria, such as why patients require a referral, when they need to be referred and aids the indication for adjustments in staffing levels in order to maintain adequate patient safety.
As for my personal achievements; this was when I took over the management role, helping to implement the insulin pump services within the Trust / Shropshire and of course becoming a TREND associate.
What would you like to see change in diabetes?
I would like care services to be more patient centered and I would like to see more access to the advanced technology. My bugbear is, that we know we have advances in technologies which clearly improve quality in life for many patients and yet the finances aren’t there to support them. Often if patients are wanting to access them, they are then having to finance it themselves so they can make use of them. I think that’s really sad that we have things that we know can hugely help patients and yet we can’t provide them.
What’s been the biggest development in the last 10 years?
Advances in technology, in continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGM), carbohydrate counting support meters, combination therapies, pen devices, memory joggers and remote data systems. Many technologies makes life so much easier for patients and the remote download facilities mean we don’t necessarily need to physically see the patients for just a 20 minute appointment. Some of my patients live miles away – so if we can do things that prevent the patient from travelling so much it may reduce their frustration a lot.
What is the best way to achieve good health outcomes with your patients?
I think the best way to get good health outcomes is to have an honest relationship with your patient. Encouraging patients to discuss their concerns, frustrations and aims enables us to become patient focused. Having that sort of relationship will also help us set realistic goals and make the consultations become more patient centered, rather than making it all about targets. I think when the government introduced their targets, it obviously did a lot for diabetes because it made people take the condition more seriously. However, on the flip side, now people often become more concerned with meeting the targets than focusing on the patients’ quality of life and this should always be considered.