Exploring staff diabetes medication knowledge and practices in regional residential care: triangulation study

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Abstract

Aims and objectives

This study is drawn from a larger project that aimed to identify the staffing and organisational factors influencing the quality of diabetes care for older people living in residential care in regional Victoria, Australia. The focus of the current study is on medication management for residents with diabetes.

Background

With a continuous rise in diabetes in the population, there is an associated increase in the prevalence of diabetes in aged care residential settings. However, there is little specific guidance on how to manage diabetes in older people living in institutional settings who experience multiple concurrent chronic conditions.

Design

A triangulation strategy consisting of three phases.

Methods

A one-shot cross-sectional survey (n = 68) focus group interviews and a case file audit (n = 20). Data were collected between May 2009–January 2010.

Findings

Staff knowledge of diabetes and its contemporary medication management was found to be suboptimal. Challenges to managing residents with diabetes included limited time, resident characteristics and communication systems. Additionally, the variability in medical support available to residents and a high level of polypharmacy added to the complexity of medication management of resident.

Conclusions

The current study suggests administering medicine to residents in aged care settings is difficult and has potentially serious medical, professional and economic consequences. Limitations to staff knowledge of contemporary diabetes care and medications potentially place residents with diabetes at risk of receiving less than optimal diabetes care.

Relevance to clinical practice

Providing evidence-based guidelines about diabetes care in residential care settings is essential to achieve acceptable outcomes and increase the quality of life for residents in public aged care. Continuing education programs in diabetes care specifically related to medication must be provided to all health professionals and encompass scope of practice.

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