OMNI launching comprehensive diabetes program

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – OMNI Health Care is launching a comprehensive diabetes strategy in an effort to enhance quality of life for residents living in its 17 long-term care homes, as well as to reduce strain on the acute-care system.

At the heart of the program is the diabetes advisory team, a group that includes medical and diabetes professionals from the community and from within OMNI that will be focused on developing an action plan, creating treatment guidelines, establishing a physician-staff education framework and identifying outcomes to gauge the program’s success.

Enhancing quality is once again a major focus for OMNI in 2013, and reducing the impact of diabetes on residents has been identified as a key priority this year. To illustrate the prevalence of diabetes in long-term care, 369 of the 1,419 residents living in OMNI homes — 26 per cent — have diabetes, with 305 of those affected by Type 1, or insulin dependent, diabetes.

OMNI president and CEO Patrick McCarthy underscores the impact the diabetes strategy will have on meeting the organization’s goal of delivering top-notch quality care to residents.

“Given the prevalence of diabetes and the complexities of the conditions that can arise from diabetes, anything that you can do to prevent diabetes or early detect and better treat diabetes and related complications will end up improving residents’ quality of life,” he says.

On Feb. 6, OMNI received a grant from Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd. and Eli Lilly (Canada) Inc. to help make the strategy possible. As part of the program, new protocols and strategies, including medications, will be piloted at two OMNI homes, Riverview Manor in Peterborough and Pleasant Meadow Manor in Norwood.

OMNI chief operating officer Shawn Riel notes research into protocols and strategies to be trialled in the program indicates positive results for seniors living with diabetes.

Diabetes is a serious issue in long-term care, and its impact on quality of life profound: fluctuating blood sugar brought on by diabetes can cause falls and the disease also poses challenges for wound care. Diabetes can also lead to cardiovascular disease and stroke.

By having better control of diabetes, residents can avoid hospital visits, which, in turn, improves quality of life while helping reduce the burden on the acute-care system, McCarthy says.

“If you have a fall, there’s a chance of injury. You may have pain, may have to go to hospital and spend hours awaiting diagnosis and treatment in the emergency room. A fall avoided means a better quality of life,” he says.

The fact the diabetes strategy aims to improve quality of life to residents and reduce strain on the greater health-care system attests to its value, says McCarthy.

“This strategy is all about quality.”

McCarthy and Riel note that eventually OMNI is hoping to expand the program to include community outreach and employee wellness initiatives.