Sugar hit

Nurse tackles diabetes in the community

Source: APNA Primary Times Spring 2020 (Volume 20, Issue 2)

Using a libre sensor to monitor glucose levels

When Kylie Foley was working in a hospital ward, she saw the terrible things that diabetes can do to a human being.

She treated patients whose lower limbs were so badly ulcerated that they had to be amputated, an awful consequence of poor circulation and nerve damage.

Those memories are what motivates her to make a difference now as a primary health care nurse and diabetes educator working in general practice in Sydney’s western suburbs.

This proud APNA member says she likes to empower her patients to take control of their health through exercise, diet and the occasional pep talk.


“I love helping them with lifestyle changes, motivating them to make the change, keeping their blood sugars under control,” she says. “The numbers don’t lie, so when patients see their blood sugars creeping up, they know they have to do something about it.”

Diabetes is Australia’s fastest growing chronic condition, affecting more than 1.7 million people. Poor food choices, over-eating and sedentary behaviours (more screen time, anyone?) are major factors behind this epidemic that costs the country more than $14 billion each year.

For Kylie, it’s a source of frustration that more of the health budget isn’t spent on addressing the problem through health education and improved prevention in primary health care.

Far better, she says, to deal with the issue at its source and where possible avoid expensive hospital treatment, suffering and premature death.

She says greater investment in team-based care would pay big dividends for Australians living with diabetes.

As part of a practice team which includes the GPs and a medical practice assistant, Kylie currently works on chronic disease care plans with added support if required from a clinical pharmacist funded through WentWest, the local Primary Health Network.

While grateful for the federally funded pharmacist, she feels more could be achieved with additional allied health intervention provided by social workers, peer support workers, dietitians and exercise physiologists.

For many patients from lower socio-economic backgrounds, access to those kind of services is too costly – and is also beyond the reach of smaller general practices constrained by current funding models.

“We need a variety of health professionals to deal with this and ensure that patients get the right kind of support when they need it,” says Kylie. “Prevention is critical.”


Relevant APNA online learning


Nurses and NDSS forms

Practice nurses are now authorised to complete and sign/certify certain forms related to the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) run by Diabetes Australia.

These include the NDSS Registration form; the Blood Glucose Test Strip Six Month Approval form; and the Syringe or Pen Needle Access form (previously known as Medication Change form).

This new business process is optional for each clinic. Nurses would not be required to certify a form unless it was within their scope of practice, knowledge and experience to do so.  Find out more


Facts about diabetes


  1. Diabetes Australia


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