Published on 12 November 2021

Diabetes 101 recognised for creating community out of the chaos of the pandemic crisis.

This year’s Quality in Care Diabetes awards celebrated 11 years of recognising, rewarding and sharing initiatives that improve the quality of life for people living with diabetes.

The exceptional work undertaken during the unprecedented pressure of Covid-19 was recognised in this year’s finalists and the results were recently announced in a ceremony at Sanofi’s offices in Reading, presented by Alan Dedicoat.

One of the winners at the QIC Awards

Among the winners were Diabetes 101 – who were presented with the Unsung Hero Award.

The Diabetes 101 project is a virtual diabetes multidisciplinary team service, that was set up on Twitter in March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and first national UK lockdown.

At this time people living with diabetes were extremely anxious.

Misinformation around what was happening and how it could affect people living with diabetes was a problem, and capacity in specialist diabetes teams was overwhelmed.

The account disseminated reliable information, stability and support to people living with diabetes. It was staffed voluntarily by 19 multi-disciplinary healthcare professionals.

The account now has more than 6,000 followers, with resources shared around the world.

Novel formats of education delivery have been successfully trialled and a website has been developed.

Judges awarding the prize said: "This was amazing work from Diabetes 101. They used social media in an innovative way and the infographics on data was amazing. The app gave those who were locked in the opportunity to access detailed information and get answers. The team did this outside of their day-to-day work and it is innovative, engaging and empowering. It is a fantastic example of cross-team working and genuinely kept people out of hospital. The fact that it was delivered in a less formal, chatty way made it engaging, nimble and with great reach." 

Among the team behind Diabetes 101 is Beth Kelly, Diabetes Specialist Nurse at Wiltshire Health and Care and member of the DRWF Editorial Advisory Board. 

Beth said: “Myself, NHS National Specialist Advisor for Diabetes, Professor Partha Kar OBE, and Amanda Epps, Diabetes Specialist Nurse at Medway NHS Foundation Trust discussed setting up an account for people living with diabetes to access during Covid-19. When Coronavirus hit the UK and measures were being taken to put the UK into lockdown, we got a group of diabetes healthcare professionals together to plan an exciting new social media account to support the diabetes community. 

“There was a lot of quickly changing information and people with diabetes were understandably confused and we could see the distress it was causing. We wanted to alleviate some fears around Covid-19 as well as provide people with a secure base to gain reassurance and access reliable resources along with providing some emotional support for those who were staying at home during these times. 

“We wanted to boost morale and give people some structure to their days in lockdown. We wanted it to be fun, laid back but informative. 

“We are a voluntary, UK based group of multidisciplinary diabetes specialists who came together in March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“The team is made up of three Consultant Diabetologists, a GPwSI in Diabetes, a Clinical Psychologist, two pharmacists, two dietitians, nine Diabetes Specialist Nurses and a Diabetes Retinopathy Researcher. All team members give their own time voluntarily in addition to their clinical roles. 

“Our initial aim was to provide support via Twitter for the diabetes online community in response to Covid-19. This was in the form of signposting to accredited information and providing education along with some fun, to try and offer distractions from the quickly escalating anxiety within the community. This soon evolved into something quite special and has continued to develop with our first online diabetes conference 101 Downloaded in July 2020. 

“Most of the team had never met before and this project was all work that we had done in our own time over and above our normal day jobs, during the pandemic. We were often planning via various social media apps late into the night. It was a gigantic project, but one I will be very proud of during my career. The selflessness of the healthcare professionals that we approached was humbling. 

“Diabetes 101 grew into a force of nature and became something amazing for the community.”

Find out more at the Diabetes 101 website 

DRWF is proud to be a support partner for the QiC Diabetes Awards. 

Sarah Tutton, DRWF Chief Executive, said: “These awards provide a truly collaborative environment within which to share information and innovation in care delivery. We are delighted to support the QiC Diabetes programme and share in this recognition of achievement of inspiring and dedicated people. Even more so given the relentless challenges of the pandemic period, and the unwavering efforts that everyone put in to ensure that people with diabetes continued to receive the best quality care and support.”

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