You’re on the front line talking to patients every day. Today we look at how you can best support people with diabetes from the unique position of the community pharmacist.

Pharmacists are already well-versed in conversations on healthy lifestyles.

People with diabetes need the skills and confidence to take control of their own health. Diabetes education is key to achieving this, yet attendance at education courses is currently far too low across the UK.

There are various different types of education for people with diabetes, ranging from group education courses to peer support, online learning and one-to-one advice. All of these are important, but there is particularly strong evidence that group education courses – often referred to as “structured education” – can help people with diabetes to stay healthy, live well and avoid devastating complications, such as amputation, blindness and kidney failure.

The biggest of these are DAFNE (Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating, designed for people with Type 1) and DESMOND (Diabetes Education and Self Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed for people with Type 2) courses, and it is important people are made aware of where these courses are available.

It is hardly surprising that we often hear first-hand how these courses have transformed the lives of those able to attend. Pete Ellis, who has Type 1 diabetes, told Diabetes UK: “Taking the decision to attend the course was the best thing I ever did. It was the first time I really got my head straight on looking after myself.”

So please do encourage your patients with diabetes to attend a course. They can ask their GP for a referral or, in some areas, self-refer. You can reassure your patients that courses are relaxed, friendly and fun – they won’t have to speak up if they don’t want to, and there will be plenty of practical exercises and group work.

Of course, not everyone with diabetes will be able, or want, to go on a group education course. Diabetes UK provides a range of other support and education options to help people understand their diabetes better.

We know how much pharmacists can bring to the table on diabetes: their location on the frontline means they can start a lot of discussions about lifestyle change, while ongoing conversations about medication help provide a regular schedule to engage holistically with condition management. Is there more you could be doing on diabetes?

Come back tomorrow for the final episode in our diabetes week where we will be sharing key advice for the prevention of the condition that affects 3.9 million people in the UK.