It’s World Diabetes Day on Sunday 14 November and we have a new A Life in a Day Type 2 diabetes experience in development. Research from Diabetes UK shows that diagnoses have doubled in the last 15 years, with over 4.4 million people in the UK living with Type 2 diabetes. This includes 850,000 who are yet to be diagnosed.
Launching in Spring 2022, our new Type 2 diabetes experience will support pharmaceutical and healthcare professionals to increase their understanding of what it’s like to live with this chronic condition. With rising cases in the UK, it’s more important than ever that professionals can support patients with all aspects of the condition – not just the physical symptoms.
The experience is designed to show participants the huge difficulties people with Type 2 diabetes face, from the burden of taking medication every day to the negative impact it can have on relationships.
Helping professionals to understand what it’s like to live with the condition will build greater empathy in the healthcare system. This is proven to build trust between patients and healthcare professionals, improve patient outcomes, and support people’s mental health. Having empathy will also support pharmaceutical teams to have more effective conversations with clinicians and produce better information materials and products for patients.
The challenges of living with Type 2 diabetes
To develop our Type 2 diabetes experience, we’re speaking to people living with the condition to find out how Type 2 diabetes affects their life. Here’s what we’ve found so far:
- A lack of consistent information. Patients tell us they get told different information by healthcare professionals and that the goalposts are constantly moving. They also say that the onus is on them to keep up-to-date on the latest dietary requirements for diabetes, which is a lot to ask of someone living with a long-term health condition. The people we’ve spoken to say this can lead to “resentment” and “burnout”. We want to show professionals that patients need support, particularly in the early part of their journey when they’re trying to understand what is happening to them.
- There is stigma associated with Type 2 diabetes. People can associate Type 2 diabetes with eating too much unhealthy food and other ‘bad’ lifestyle habits. If caught early enough, the condition can be managed through lifestyle choices. But it’s more complicated than that. Genetics and ethnicity can also play a part. The stress of the stigma can also exacerbate the physical symptoms of the condition. Living with shame and guilt is a huge part of the patient experience so we will explore this in close detail. Participants will be asked to take on challenges such as weighing themselves on scales and thinking about how they would respond to a colleague offering them a slice of cake. They will also take part in a role play scenario with a GP about a diet and exercise programme.
- There is a psychological leap from taking oral medication tablets to injecting insulin every day. Patients who eventually need to inject themselves with insulin have told us that this is a huge change and they feel daunted.
- Dealing with the threat of complications. As well as dealing with more common symptoms such as excessive thirst and frequent urination, nerve damage and sores, patients also live with the fear of developing extreme health complications. These include vision loss, diabetic retinopathy (when blood vessels in the eyes are damaged by high blood sugar and blood pressure), limb amputations and bariatric surgery for weight loss. We want the experience to show what it’s like to live with the threat of serious health complications hanging over you and the impact this has on someone’s mental health.
Living with Type 2 diabetes
Our Type 2 diabetes experience will let participants walk in the shoes of people with the condition. It’s an immersive simulation that covers the full day, from morning to night.
As with all our other experiences, it will include:
- an interactive app with challenges to complete
- role play with professional actors asking you to make life-changing decisions
- a physical kit of items to simulate a range of symptoms that people with Type 2 diabetes live with.
Want support with your diabetes work? Register your interest and we’ll let you know when our experience is going live.