APDP – Diabetes Portugal
APDP’s Helpline for people with diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Anticipating a lockdown at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, APDP quickly reorganized its services to prevent the interruption of care for people with diabetes. APDP is the world’s oldest diabetes association, tracing its roots to providing insulin therapy in 1926 for poor Portuguese people with diabetes. Now, the organization is focused on providing education and global care for all people with diabetes in Portugal.
Along with other measures, APDP created a nationwide diabetes helpline to provide specialized advice for people with diabetes. The helpline supported all those who were unable to contact their healthcare team because of the pandemic. The helpline provided telephone assistance every day from 8 am to 8 pm, including weekends. It was staffed by a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals as well as diabetes specialists, who provide personalized answers to each patient’s needs. They also provided answers about general health concerns, SARS-Cov2 prevention tips, and what to do in case of positive infection.
APDP reallocated 80% of its staff to work from home, including healthcare professionals, administrative and operational assistants. They ensured that the helpline functioned as intended, and also proactively contacted patients to let them know about available services and communication channels. APDP signed a protocol with the Lisbon City Hall Social Rights’ department, making the helpline available to social workers in case health advice is needed during their interactions with the homeless. Other stakeholders, such as national and regional health authorities, showed their public recognition and appreciation for APDP’s work and lauded the importance of the helpline during the pandemic.