Learning how to manage type 2 diabetes


Peter Gilbert
A patient who has had diabetes for 47 years.

Whether you are newly diagnosed or have had diabetes for many years, there is always lots more that you can learn to help you to better manage your condition.

Type 2 Group Education is provided across North West London at different times of the week. During this time of Covid, groups meet via video-conferencing, but if you are unable to join a group at a fixed time, there are plenty of good online programmes which you can work through at times that better suit you.

In Brent, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster, the DESMOND programme, which runs over two sessions either on the same day or a week apart, is provided.

In Hounslow, the longer and more comprehensive X-PERT programme, which runs over six weekly sessions, is offered. Courses are run by a diabetes specialist nurse and a diabetes specialist dietitian. Your GP will refer you. Just ask!

In both of these excellent courses, there is lots of fun interaction between members of the group, which can include a family member as well. You are able to say at the start what, in particular, you want to get out of the course and there are lots of opportunities to ask questions and take part in discussions.

Woman learning online

First ‘What is diabetes?’ is explained using a diagram of the body, along with discussions about blood glucose.

There are discussions around food choices, focussing particularly on fruit and vegetables, both sugary and starchy carbohydrates, “good” and “bad” fats and portion sizes.

Insulin resistance, managing weight, exercise and remission are talked through. The long-term effects of diabetes are discussed, as well as the steps that you can take to avoid complications.

You get to complete and plot your own ‘Health Profile’ so you can work on your own Self-Management Plan, set goals that matter to you and monitor your own progress. Both programmes come with colourful booklets to keep; ‘Getting to Grips with Type 2 Diabetes’ for DESMOND and for X-PERT the ‘Essentials for Self-Management’ handbook.

In Ealing, a very similar Group programme called Right Start is running. In Hillingdon, in addition to DESMOND, there is a two-hour workshop called My Health to help you make small manageable changes.

The online version of DESMOND is called MyDesmond. It is available across the Boroughs that offer DESMOND, but your local NHS has to pay for you to use it, so you need to get a GP referral.  There are eleven Learning Sessions from ‘What is diabetes?’ to ‘Being Active’ and ‘Covid 19’, and each week a booster session is sent to you by email.

There is also a useful information section, health trackers and plenty of videos. You can chat online with other programme participants and can also ask the expert in privacy. The programme is geared to run over eight weeks, but you can work through everything, except the weekly boosters, quicker than this if you wish.

If you are injecting insulin or taking sulphonylureas or prandial glucose regulators (glinides), you may want to do the short Hypo Programme. It will help show you how to reduce your hypo risk, track your hypos and better understand their causes.

There is also the REWIND programme which will help you to lose weight, reduce medication and, like an increasing number of others, achieve remission.

So how can you meet other people with diabetes and go on learning about your type 2 diabetes? There are five Education & Support Groups for people living with type 2 diabetes spread across North West London and plenty of online chat forums. Diabetes.co.uk  and Diabetes UK both sponsor a host of online forums.

Know Diabetes also has a monthly e-newsletter. So why not register your interest to the Know Diabetes Service today?

Register your interest

There’s lots of information out there to support you in managing your Type 2 diabetes. The more you know, the better you will get at looking after yourself.


Peter Gilbert

A patient who has had diabetes for 47 years.

He is passionate about the role of diabetes education as part of a successful self-management program.