Non-clinical health workers upskill in diabetes management


Close to 100 non-clinical health professionals across Western and Far West NSW participated in one of three, free training days last week to upskill in diabetes management and working with people living with type 2 diabetes (T2D). Reception and administrative staff, Aboriginal Health Workers and disability support workers were amongst the 92 people to attend the face-to-face training, which was offered in Broken Hill, Dubbo and Orange.

Supported by the Care Partnership – Diabetes (CP-D) initiative as a collaboration between Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN), Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD)Far West Local Health District (FWLHD) and Rural Doctors Network (RDN), the program recognises the essential role of administrative health professionals in supporting the provision of high-quality healthcare for people living with type 2 diabetes in their region.

Presenters included Gary Smith AM, who has been a Practice Manager for nearly four decades, Debbie Beahan who is a proud Wiradjuri woman and Aboriginal Wellbeing Coordinator with the CP-D program (Western Virtual Diabetes Hub), and Donna Stanley, a proud Gunggari Umbie woman and Executive Manager – Aboriginal Health & Wellbeing with WNSW PHN.

Gary presented on diabetes communication and the importance of recalls and reminders in a practice management context, Donna provided Aboriginal cultural awareness training, whilst Debbie used the ‘Feltman’ approach to give participants a visual description of how sugar works in the body. Donna’s cultural awareness training highlighted that Australia is working towards bridging a significant health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australian communities.

Specific health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, are higher in individuals of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. The training outlined the importance of asking the question “Do you identify as Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander” upon presentation to any medical/health service, to ensure the provision of a high standard of individualised care and better health outcomes.

Workforce Engagement Officer at WNSW Collaborative Commissioning Partnership, Leah Pascoe, said the training was a big success and served to remind non-clinical staff of the important role they play in type 2 diabetes management.

“An estimated 6.1 percent of the population in Western and Far West NSW live with T2D,” Ms Pascoe said. “This is higher than the national average of 5.5 percent and is increasing annually. Type 2 diabetes is also being diagnosed at younger ages, often presenting as a more aggressive disease leading to complications.

“Responding to T2D is a health priority because people living with the disease in the region are 40 percent more likely to die as a result of their diabetes than the rest of NSW. The Indigenous population is at particular risk as 20 percent of people living with T2D identify as Aboriginal.”

After attending the event, Liz Clarke, Project Officer Far West LHD, said:

"After almost 20 years in health, this is the first training that I have seen that was specific to non-clinical staff supporting clinical services. The training was awesome, very relevant, great cultural content and basic clinical information. I believe that I am [now] better equipped to support diabetes services in the non-clinical space."

Learn more about Care Partnership – Diabetes