Nurses collaborate to create Diabetes Education ToolkitApr. 6, 2023, 9:32 AM
by Matt Batcheldor
The VUMC Office of Health Equity (OHE) and nurses from Vanderbilt Adult Ambulatory Clinics collaborated with Charis Health Center in Wilson County to create a Diabetes Education Toolkit to better serve Charis’ patient population.
Charis Health Center, located in Mt. Juliet, provides affordable primary care to those who don’t have access to health insurance and are often homebound. The OHE and nursing team met with Charis representatives in February to begin rolling out the culturally tailored toolkits in English and Spanish. The goal is to improve health outcomes through education during home visits to Charis’ patient population and diabetes-friendly food boxes, said Bianca Sarr, RN, VUMC administrative nursing fellow.
The project was a result of listening sessions with VUMC nursing staff in August and Charis staff in October to determine how to reach the diabetes population, Sarr said. They determined a need for more diabetes education.
Charis volunteers will distribute the toolkits, which contain materials explaining what diabetes is, the steps to manage it and how to live with it. But that’s not the end of it. Patients given the toolkit will be asked to perform an assessment before receiving the materials and after, to see how well they retained the information. The patients and the educators will also be evaluated to see what’s working well and what could be improved.
Sarr has a family history of diabetes, so the topic is personal and reflects her interest in diversity, equity and inclusion. Diabetes disproportionately affects people of color and the socioeconomically disadvantaged, and if not treated early, can lead to blindness and amputation. Yet educating the population is not easy.
“Diabetes is such a complex disease and there are several different types,” Sarr said. “There are also several different methods to treat diabetes. To be healthy and keep it controlled, you have to manage it. Doing so prevents other issues, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.”
Sarr noted the medications to treat, or even just the act of eating healthier, can be expensive, another major barrier to treatment.
“The goal with this toolkit is to help these patients understand the disease process and how to prevent it from getting worse and prevent other complications that will just cause them more issues and cost them more money, ultimately.”
Lindsay Miller, MSN, RN, NE-BC, associate nursing officer for VUMC Adult Ambulatory Clinics, said, “This project is a good example of how we can leverage our adult ambulatory nurses to help address our strategic priorities of promoting health equity within our communities. This is also a project that responds to our community health needs assessment within that community.”