Rising cost of living impacts how people manage their diabetes

77% of people affected by diabetes said the rising costs of living is having a negative impact on how they manage the condition.

The Diabetes UK survey of 6,500 people took place in November 2022. It went to people who had a diagnosis of diabetes or who were identified as at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

It found health inequalities were widening.

●  1 in 10 people living in the most deprived areas of the UK had been unable to afford to travel to medical appointments 

●  More than 36% who received means-tested benefits had cut back on costs related to managing their diabetes, such as hypo treatments or self-funded technology.

The report of the survey, The Hidden Costs, urges action to protect people with diabetes from utilities disconnection and asks for a guarantee that Universal Credit can cover the cost of essentials.

Download the full survey report and calls for action from the Diabetes UK website here.

North-South health inequalities divide growing

A new report identifies a pattern of lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and worse health and wellbeing in the North of England.

Health Equity North: 2023 provides a snapshot of the health issues facing the North. It is based on the latest available national data.

The report was published to mark the launch of a virtual institute called Health Equity North (HEN). The institute focuses on place-based solutions to public health problems and inequalities across the North of England.

It says the report adds to a growing body of evidence highlighting an urgent need to address regional health inequalities and improve productivity in the North.

Find out more about HEN and the new report on the HEN website.

Study tests new methods for large-scale health literacy audits

Researchers looking at ways to ensure health information meets the health literacy needs of users have come up with a new auditing model.

The  pilot study focused on an Australian not-for-profit organisation with a portfolio of 147 resources.

Results identified 3 key areas for action:

●  Make resources easier to understand and act on

●  Consider the readers’ context, needs and skills

●  Improve inclusiveness and representation.

Researchers say the study suggests how the audit method could be improved. This includes measures such as:

●  Ensuring diverse representation in the user group

●  Providing more opportunity for unstructured feedback

●  Simplifying how audit data are presented.

They hope the model will help organisations with large information portfolios carry out health literacy audits.

Download and read the study on the BMC Health Services Research website.


COVID-19 lessons have potential to improve social care

COVID-19 highlighted and increased existing problems with social care in England, says a new report from the Nuffield Trust.

It highlights a need for change, including:

●  Social care to be viewed as important as the NHS

●  A less complicated social care system

●  Deeper understanding of people who use social care from decision-makers

The report is part of the Social Care COVID Recovery and Resilience project, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research Policy Research Programme.

It is available in several formats, including easy-read.

Find out more and download the report from the Nuffield Trust.

Digital tools break down barriers to mental health care for young people

Digital mental health interventions (DHIs) can help reduce barriers to mental health care.

This is the conclusion from analysis of 30 existing studies looking at how parents, children and adolescents find the experience of using DHIs.

Researchers found users of DHIs want products to be easy to use, flexible, customisable and aesthetically pleasing.

The study, Attitudes of Children, Adolescents, and Their Parents Toward Digital Health Interventions: Scoping Review, said the fear of stigma was reduced when children and young people could access DHIs.

Other important factors making DHIs both acceptable and sought after by users include connectedness and autonomy.

Read the study on the Journal of Medical Internet Research website here.

Occupational therapy under pressure

Staff shortages and increased demand mean the occupational therapy (OT) workforce is struggling to support people living with long-term health conditions and disability.

The Workforce Survey Report 2022-23 from the Royal College of Occupational Therapists is based on the responses of 2,600 OTs surveyed in November 2022. 

Key findings included:

●  86% reported an increased demand for OT services within the previous 12 months

●  79% said more complex needs were being presented because of delayed interventions

●  63% felt they were too busy to provide the level of care they wanted.

Its recommendation include:

●  Governments recognising investment in the NHS and social care is vital to a healthy population.

●  Investment in the OT workforce to match need.

●  Building capacity in primary and community health and social care services so people get advice and help early on.

Find out more from the Royal College of Occupational Therapists website.

New helpline offers support to Welsh families living with autism

Families in Wales living with autism and other neurodivergent conditions can now call on 24-hour support and advice.

The neurodivergent project signposts people to literature and service information. It started work in April 2023 as part of Welsh Government efforts to improve support for neurodivergent people.

The Community Advice Listening Line (C.A.L.L) mental health helpline for Wales delivers the service. Staff have had extra training on neurodivergence from the National Autism Team. An impact evaluation is planned to ensure it meets the needs of its users.

See contact details for the C.A.L.L. helpline here.

The initiative is part of Welsh Government efforts to deliver on a commitment to improve services and support for neurodivergent people.

Read the Welsh Government announcement about the new service.

Podcast - why health literacy matters

Health literacy expert and author Helen Osborne interviews a US health literacy leader in the latest edition of her podcast.

Interviewee Karen Komondor is active in local, regional, and national health literacy initiatives. These include Healthy Cleveland’s Health Literacy Committee, Ohio Health Literacy Partners, and the National Council to Improve Patient Safety through Health Literacy.

The interview discusses:

●  The importance of knowing why health literacy matters to each of us

●  How knowing can help drive commitment, action and resilience

●  Tips for dealing with obstacles to health literacy plans and actions.

Health Literacy Out Loud (HLOL) is a podcast presenting a series of interviews with people who know about the subject.

Read and transcript of the podcast and find out where you can listen to it on the HLOL website.