AbilityNet supports people with type 2 diabetes as part of Highlands project

Today is World Diabetes Day, and to mark the day we are pleased to announce a partnership between AbilityNet, Diabetes Scotland, NHS Highland and High Life Highland, to provide iPads, mobile internet connections, training, and support for people at risk of diabetes and those newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

iPads packed with information and support for people with type 2 diabetes are now available from High Life Highland libraries.

Rise in diabetes cases

Nurse giving person a blood pressure scanRecent stats from Diabetes UK show a rise in the number of under 40s being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. 

There is also a growing prevalence of type 2 diabetes in Scotland, and it is hoped the iPad technology that this project provides, loaded with health information, access to online peer support, online education and helping people access appointments will improve people’s access to the right healthcare.

National Director at Diabetes Scotland Angela Mitchell says: “This project could make a huge difference to people living with and at risk of type 2 diabetes in Highland. 

“We heard first-hand from people in Highland about what really helped when they were first diagnosed and being digitally connected gives people living with diabetes the opportunity to access online resources, support and even healthcare," she continues.

“About 10% of the UK population is still digitally excluded - particularly people on a low income, and rates of type 2 diabetes are 80% higher in our most deprived communities, so we know there is a real need for those communities to be connected to support.”

Self-management aided by tech

NHS Highland’s Health Improvement Specialist Fiona MacLeod says:

“When people first find out they have type 2 diabetes or are at risk of type 2 diabetes it can be very confusing, the project aims to provide recommended online health information and education. There’s a variety of useful websites, apps and leaflets to give people a choice of options that will help them to self-manage their condition."

The geographical area of the Highland population is diverse with two thirds of the people with type 2 diabetes living in remote or rural locations which can make accessing the right support more challenging. 

“As services are beginning to offer more online alternatives, we want to increase the opportunities for people to obtain information, resources and services to help them manage their diabetes and access peer opportunities’ that are right for them,” she continues.

How AbilityNet supports the project

AbilityNet supports people with disabilities and older people by helping them to use computers and other digital technology, and we can provide support on how to use the iPads (provided as part of the project), from how to switch it on to providing some refresher training if required.

AbilityNet volunteer Jamie Robson says: “AbilityNet is proud to be part of this initiative which helps bridge the digital divide and provides access to vital resources that people would otherwise miss out on.”

"The iPads have SIM cards providing internet data therefore you don’t need to have internet in your home to use the iPads," he continues.

Addressing inequalities in access to tech

ipad in useHigh Life Highland’s Head of Health and Wellbeing Lynn Bauermeister says: “This project has the potential to help tackle inequalities and ensure those who need support receive it.

“The cost of digital devices and internet usage can be prohibitive for some people and we hope that by providing free access through our friendly teams in High Life Highland libraries will give more people more opportunities to access information and support with type 2 diabetes if they wish to do so.”

The iPad Loans can be booked out and collected from local libraries in the Highlands, where applicants will be given a small pack of information on how to use the iPad, how to access training, and what is available on the iPad. 

If you want to find out more or loan an iPad, get in touch with your local library or contact libraries@highlifehighland.com

Diabetes case study

Name: Keith Walker 
Age: 63
From: Beauly
Diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes: 1995

“Life was very much up and down after my diagnosis. It took a long time to understand what was happening to me and my body. I worked out through finger prick testing what affect certain foods had on my blood sugars, which took a while. From there, I learned what worked for me, and what didn’t. To manage the condition, it’s important to learn what works and what doesn’t – otherwise you’re just operating on trial and error. 

“I very much had to feel my way on my own through that - so if I’d had access to information at my fingertips, life would have been so much easier. 

“If I’d had the type of information this new project gives people, at the time of my diagnosis, I’d have been better able to know what was going on in my body. Therefore, I’d have been better able to manage my condition in those early days. I’d often have questions pop up, and then have to wait to speak to the nurse, or the doctor. Having access to information at my fingertips would have been such a great support.”

Further resources

How AbilityNet can help

AbilityNet provides a range of free services to help disabled people and older people.

  • Call our free Helpline. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will discuss any kind of computer problem and do their best to come up with a solution. We're open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm on 0800 048 7642
  • My Computer My Way free interactive guide to all the accessibility features built into current desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones
  • If you're able to help us help others please donate to AbilityNet