Diabetes is a life-long health condition. In the UK there are three million people diagnosed with diabetes and an estimated 850,000 people who do not know they have it.
There are different types of diabetes, which can require different forms of treatment and control. If left untreated, diabetes can cause serious health problems. Symptoms can appear gradually, which is why many people do not realise that something is wrong.
At Berkshire Healthcare, we work with you to help you understand the type of diabetes you have. Our specialist teams provide you with support and advice so that you can live a full and healthy life.
What is diabetes and what are the symptoms?
Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. This is because your pancreas does not produce any insulin, or not enough, to help glucose enter your body’s cells – or the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).
If you have diabetes, your body cannot make proper use of glucose so it builds up in the blood and isn’t able to be used as fuel.
Symptoms can occur because the glucose stays in the blood and cannot be used for energy. The body tries to remove the excess glucose from the body.
Some symptoms of diabetes you should look out for include:
- passing urine more often than usual, especially at night
- increased thirst
- extreme tiredness
- unexplained weight loss
- genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
- slow healing of cuts and wounds
- blurred vision
Diabetes can cause other health conditions, such as foot and eye problems.
Diabetic foot is one of the most common conditions people with diabetes suffer from. Foot ulcers are the main cause of hospital admission for people with diabetes. They can happen because the nerves and blood vessels supplying your feet become damaged. You might experience a lack of sensation in your feet, excessive swelling or a change in their appearance such as their colour. These changes can be very gradual and you may not notice them.
Diabetic eye occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the cells at the back of the eye, known as the retina. If it is not treated, it can lead to blindness.
How we help you
Our Diabetes Centre is located at King Edward VII hospital, Windsor. Our diabetes specialist nurses also work in your community to help you manage your condition at home.
We provide care for adults with diabetes who have been referred to us by their GP. We encourage you to play an active role in the care of your diabetes, working in partnership with our team of experts. The team consists of diabetes specialist nurses, dieticians, podiatrists and consultants.
Some people can manage their diabetes through diet and exercise, but others need medication to help their body cope. Controlling your diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure, and having your feet screened every year by a suitably-trained professional, will help to reduce the risk of developing problems.
In addition using our Diabetes Centre as a place to monitor your condition, we also offer the following services:
- A range of clinics led by diabetes specialist nurses, dieticians and consultants
Educational courses such as:
- DEAL (Diabetes Education Awareness for Life) - for those with newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetes
- DEAL plus - for those diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes for more than one year
- CHOICE (Carbohydrate and Insulin Calculation Education) - for those with Type 1 diabetes
- GDM education - for those diagnosed with gestational diabetes
Our Community Diabetes Specialist Nurse Service in Berkshire West works closely with GPs and practice nurses to provide you with diabetes care within the community.
You can be referred to our specialist nurses by your GP, practice nurse of community nurse.
Our nursing team run the XPERT patient education programme for people with Type 2 Diabetes.
Courses run across Wokingham, Reading and Newbury and can be accessed through your practice nurse or GP.
XPERT is a national accredited course that will lead you through a greater understanding of Diabetes, carbohydrates and calories.
XPERT is delivered through six 2-and-a-half hour sessions and has proved to be a great success in Berkshire West
The Podiatry Service works closely with the Diabetic Service to ensure your receive all appropriate and relevant care for your condition, including diabetic foot. They run clinics across Berkshire, with more complex problems being treated at King Edward VII Hospital and the Royal Berkshire Hospital. All of our podiatrists are trained in managing diabetic foot. It is important to have your feet checked every year. This will take place as part of your diabetes care planning at your GP surgery.
If you have diabetes and notice changes in your feet, you should contact your GP immediately and they will refer you to our Podiatry Service for advice and treatment of diabetic foot.
We offer a Diabetic Eye Screening Service (DES) for anyone registered with a GP in Berkshire. The aim of the service is to reduce the rate of avoidable visual loss through the detection of sight threatening problems (retinopathy). If you have diabetes and are experiencing problems with your vision or eyes you find out how to contact the Diabetes Eye Screening Service here.
Additional support services
Sometimes having a long term condition like diabetes can be stressful and add to life’s struggles. In addition to your routine diabetes health checks, it is important that you have the option to learn how to manage with feeling down, stressed and worried. We know that helping people learn to manage the stress that comes with having diabetes can help with emotional wellbeing and possibly physical health too.
Our Talking Therapies service offer Diabetes Wellbeing Groups throughout the Berkshire area to help anyone with Type 2 Diabetes. The six weekly sessions cover factors around living with diabetes as well as identifying and learning coping strategies to help with anxiety and depression. The leaflets below provide information about how to access your local group:
- Type 2 Diabetes Wellbeing Groups - Newbury, Reading and Wokingham
- Type 2 Diabetes Wellbeing Groups - Bracknell, Windsor, Ascot, Maidenhead and Slough
In addition to the Wellbeing Groups above, if you live in Newbury, Reading or Wokingham we provide additional support for some patients with Type 2 Diabetes. This new service teaches people skills to help them live a fulfilling life. It aims to support people with adjusting to and coping with living with Type 2 Diabetes. The service also helps people identify barriers that might be getting in the way of goals relating to their health, as well as their general wellbeing. You can visit the Talking Health website to find out if this could be suitable for you and, if so, how your GP can refer you.
The Berkshire West Diabetes Network also has its own website which is accessible to all with information updated regularly.
What makes us special?
Our education courses have recently been given a seal of approval by the Quality Institute for Self-Management Education and Training (QISMET).
QISMET commended the service and the level of commitment shown by all our staff involved in diabetes education and awarded it the Diabetes Self-Management Education standard.
The courses are run by diabetes nurses and dietitians and are available for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
They help people with diabetes to manage their condition by educating them about the condition, its symptoms and the treatment available, managing their medication, complications and healthy eating and healthy lifestyle.
Need more information?
Information about visiting the centre and what to expect
Your Podiatry Service
Find out how we assess you and what treatments are available