​​Living with diabetes


Diabetes is a long-term condition caused by too much glucose, a type of sugar, in the blood.

There are 3.9 million people living with diabetes in the UK. That's more than one in 16 people in the UK who has diabetes (diagnosed or undiagnosed).

There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2.

 Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. In the UK, around 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2.

Type 1 diabetes is less common and tends to occur before the age of 40. 

Diabetes management

If you are living with diabetes there is a lot that you can do that will help you to take control of your diabetes and avoid problems. Your GP can support you to do this.
Key steps to managing your diabetes are:

  • Take your medication and insulin properly
  • Maintain a healthy weight – this will help control your blood glucose level
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet - you can find more information in the booklets at the bottom of the page
  • Stop smoking 
  • Stay active​ 
  • Check your feet every day – there is more information and advice on diabetes and foot health below
  • Go to your regular check-ups

Learn more about being a diabetic and lifestyle tips on the NHS Choices healthy living with diabetes pages

What to expect from your health care in Croydon

Your GP and nurse will arrange to see you at least every year and will perform some simple tests to help keep you fit and healthy. These tests will check your blood for glucose and cholesterol and assess how well your kidneys are working. You should  also have a basic foot check and eye screening arranged.

If you need specialist support, your GP will refer you to Croydon's Community Diabetes Service (run by Bromley Healthcare Ltd), where you may benefit from the advice of a Diabetes Specialist Nurse or Consultant. Other resources available include education courses for people newly diagnosed with diabetes (details below), as well as access to dieticians, and therapists to assist you to adjust to managing your long term condition as detailed below. For more complex foot problems you may also be referred to the local podiatry service.

Their diabetes team supports adults and young people (from the age of 19 upwards) who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.  

They offer clinical advice, education and support for you, your partner, your family and carers.

The experienced team includes diabetes specialist nurses (DSN), dietitians and consultants who are on hand to monitor your condition and offer advice when it's needed.  They also work closely with the podiatry service.

You can read their leaflet about the diabetes service here.

If your care is deemed to be complex or you meet the following criteria:

  • you are a diabetic pregnant lady or develop diabetes because you're pregnant (gestational diabetes)
  • Have renal disease
  • Require an insulin pump

Then you will be seen by the Croydon Health Services where the consultant diabetologist will see you at either Croydon University Hospital or Purley War Memorial Hospital.

Diabetes education and self-management courses

DESMOND for type 2 diabetes

When you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes the amount of information that you need to understand and the impact of diabetes on your life can be quite overwhelming.

In Croydon we encourage all newly diagnosed diabetics to attend the DESMOND programme. 

DESMOND (Diabetes Education and Self-Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed) will help you become confident about different aspects of diabetes and develop a plan for you to manage your diabetes effectively.

The one day programme is informal and interactive, and is run by trainers for groups of between 10 and 15 people. 

You will meet other people in the same situation as yourself and receive a handbook with the main messages from the programme. 

Speak to your GP if you would like to attend.

DAFNE for type 1 diabetes

DAFNE (Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating) is a five day patient education programme which teaches people with type 1 diabetes the skills they need to adjust their insulin doses to match what they eat.

In Croydon we encourage all those newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes to attend the DAFNE programme. 

The aim of the course is to support people with diabetes to manage their condition with minimal change to their daily routine, while ensuring they maintain good blood glucose control.

More information is available on the  DAFNE website.   If you would like to attend speak to your GP.

Both the DESMOND and DAFNE courses are run by Bromley Healthcare Ltd.

Foot health and diabetes 

If you are living with diabetes it is very important to look after your feet.

Diabetes can limit the blood supply to your feet and cause a loss of feeling.

This can mean foot injuries do not heal well, and the lack of feeling means you may not notice if your foot is sore or injured. If you have diabetes you are more likely to have a limb amputated due to gangrene.

There is lots of information available about how to keep your feet healthy warning signs to look out for:

·        NHS Choices advice on diabetes and foot health

·        Diabetes UK

·        10 steps to healthy feet

·        What to expect at a foot examination

Diabetic eye-screening

When diabetes affects the small blood vessels in the part of your eye called the retina, this is known as diabetic retinopathy.

The retina lines the inside of the eye and acts rather like a film in a camera. In the early stages, diabetic retinopathy will not affect your sight.

However, if the changes get worse, eventually your sight will be affected.  

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes it is important that you are screened for diabetic retinopathy annually. Please contact Medical Imaging UK on 01905 362 781 or email swl.desp@nhs.net to book your annual diabetic eye screening appointment – please note, your GP practice can do this for you. You can choose to attend either Croydon University Hospital site or the Purley War Memorial site. ​

Making decisions about your care

You may find that you will sometimes have choices to make about your care or treatment.

 For example, this could include deciding whether to take extra medication or not if your diabetes is not under control.

Make sure you discuss your options with your GP or nurse so you can decide what option is best for you. 

Two patient decision making aids have also been developed to help patients decide what to do if their diabetes is not under control.

Further information on living with diabetes

Find out more about managing diabetes on the dedicated diabetes advice pages on the NHS Choices website.

There is also lots of advice and tools on the Diabetes UK website, including a Diabetes UK Tracker app for Apple or Android smartphones.

Eating well – type one diabetes

Eating well – type 2 diabetes