Wellness working to support better diabetes education

The Wellness institute is announcing the development of a comprehensive new program for modern and effective diabetes education including individual exercise prescription to launch within a year.

Wellness Institute has offered a specialized Diabetes Exercise program ever since it first piloted the program citywide in 2013. More recently Wellness Institute has been able to offer onsite diabetes education and diet counseling as a result of a partnership with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Seven Oaks My Health team. Wellness also offers nurse-led foot care, a common issue faced by diabetics.

Now supported in part by a sponsorship by AstraZeneca, Wellness has engaged an expert in diabetes education to review the medical research and current guidelines for diabetes education and management and advise Wellness on the best ways to address any gaps and pull all these elements together as the most effective evidence program in Canada.

“We have all the ingredients we just need the right mixture of support and education and encouragement so that more people with diabetes get their diabetes under control,” said Dr. Kevin Saunders, a family practice physician at Rivergrove Medical Clinic and the Wellness Institute’s founding and current Medical Advisor.

Dr. Saunders is one of the keynote speakers at the all-day Canadian Diabetes Association Expo at Wellness Institute on Saturday April 23. Hundreds of Winnipeggers have already registered for the expo which will include speakers, exhibits and demonstrations for people living with diabetes.

The event and Wellness programming are both targeted at the growing number of Manitobans with diabetes. Seven Oaks catchment area has one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in Winnipeg

Unmanaged sugar levels can lead to many complications of diabetes affecting the heart and blood vessels, eyesight, and kidneys. Type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of chronic kidney disease and debilitating kidney failure. Manitoba has one of the highest rates of kidney failure in Canada.

“As a physician, I prescribe medications for diabetes, but I also prescribe exercise and diet changes that aren’t as easy for patients to swallow.  Some of my patients can manage this on their own, but many don’t know how to get started, aren’t confident they will succeed, and too often they feel like they are out on their own. This is why we need a modern, best practice diabetes program at Wellness Institute to support these patients to succeed,” Dr. Saunders said.

Participants in Diabetes Exercise such as Krys Polakowski are very grateful for the help they received.

“I tell my friends the best thing I ever did was join this class.  When I started I was discouraged and very frustrated.   At the Wellness I came to terms with being a diabetic. In order to manage diabetes you need the help of expert staff to exercise, for nutrition, and to understand medications and what they do,” she said.

Enhancements to current programming will be introduced as early as the fall. In the meantime, Wellness will continue to provide Diabetes Exercise and education support from the My Health Team as well as the Diabetes Exercise Program.

Ultimately the goal is to help many more people like Krys by ensuring a best practice program with medical oversight to support effective diabetes management.

Image: Certified Exercise Professional Amy Schroeder with Diabetes Exercise participant Krys Polakowski on the track at the Wellness Institute.