As schools reopen in September, it is important that everything is in place to ensure a safe return. In this article, we provide you with a useful reminder of everything you should consider when managing medical conditions in school.
Specific health conditions
It is vital that school staff receive full training and are confident and competent in first aid care. For example, this includes individual health care plans for specific health conditions.
At First Aid for Life we offer specific staff training on the management and first aid for asthma, anaphylaxis, diabetes, seizures. and other specific health conditions. We also have a comprehensive online first aid course that covers these conditions. Also including the writing of Individual Healthcare Plans and giving medication in schools.
It is important that all staff, including lunchtime supervisors receive professional training. So they are confident they could recognise and give immediate first aid to someone who is choking, or experiencing an anaphylactic reaction.
It is vital that medication is only administered by staff competent to give it. In addition, there must be written medical instructions and consent from the parent or legal guardian.
Individual Healthcare Plans in Schools
There are many children in school with chronic and complex medical conditions. It is therefore essential that staff work with parents and healthcare professionals so that these children are given all the support they need.
In order to make it easier for everyone to understand the nature of the medical needs, there is a document known as the Individual Healthcare Plan.
In accordance with the Children’s and Family’s Act of 2014, every pupil with a long term or complex medical condition should have an Individual Healthcare Plan.
This plan must be:
- Specific to the individual pupil.
- Written in conjunction with the school, healthcare professional, school nurse, parents and often the pupil too.
- As clear and uncomplicated as possible.
Ultimately, it should be a short, clear guide as to the particular medical needs. Including the triggers, precautions, management and treatment of a particular pupil in an emergency.
Click here to find out more about IHPs in our comprehensive article containing templates.
Anaphylaxis is an extremely severe allergic reaction. Reactions usually begin within minutes and progress rapidly, however, they can occur up to 2-3 hours after exposure. In addition, exercise can initiate symptoms a while after exposure to an allergen. Common allergens include food and insect stings. Importantly, the rise of food allergies poses a significant risk for pupils in schools.
In the UK, 5–8% of children have a food allergy and a fifth of all fatal reactions occur while at school. Anaphylaxis can proceed rapidly. In turn, failure to administer adrenaline promptly has been associated with fatalities.
It is really important that parents have ordered additional adrenaline injectors. In addition, teachers must know what to do in case of a medical emergency.
For more, click here to read our article, ‘Emergency adrenaline auto-injectors in schools: the facts’ for a comprehensive guide.
Asthma is an extremely common chronic and potentially life-threatening condition. It affects nearly 10% of children. On average, there are two children with asthma in every classroom in the UK. Over 25,000 emergency hospital admissions for asthma amongst children in the UK every year and many more when you include adult asthmatics too. Sadly, there is always a spike in September for children requiring admission to hospital with an exacerbation of their asthma.
When someone has Asthma; their airways go into spasm which causes tightness of the chest; the linings of the airways become inflamed and produce phlegm leading to severe difficulty in breathing. Approximately 20 children of school age in England and Wales die every year from asthma. Most deaths occur before the child reaches hospital. Schools are now permitted to have a spare inhaler available for emergencies.
Children should have their prescribed asthma inhaler with them at school. If they are able to manage their asthma themselves, they should have their inhaler with them. If not, it should be quickly and easily accessible to them. However, 86% of children with asthma have at some time been without an inhaler at school having forgotten, lost or broken it. Or the inhaler having run out or been out of date. Therefore, schools are able to hold emergency inhalers and spacers and should have these as part of their emergency asthma kit.
An Emergency Asthma kit should contain the following:
- a Salbutamol metered dose inhaler
- at least two plastic spacers compatible with the inhaler
- instructions on using the inhaler and spacer
- instructions on cleaning and storing the inhaler
- manufacturer’s information
- a checklist of inhalers, identified by their batch number and expiry date, with monthly checks recorded
- a note of the arrangements for replacing the inhaler and spacers.
A seizure is the medical term for a fit or convulsion. One in twenty people will have a seizure at some point in their lives. However, not everyone who has a seizure will have epilepsy.
Firstly, electrical activity happens constantly in our brains and controls movements and bodily functions. If there is a disruption to the blood supply to the brain, it can trigger a seizure causing uncontrolled movement of the eyes, limbs and body.
Febrile convulsions can happen to five out of every 100 children under the age of six years old and so are not uncommon.
These are seizures caused by a rising temperature when they are unwell. As a result, seizures are extremely frightening, however these ones are rarely life threatening. Moreover, your child is likely to grow out of them by the time they are about 5 years old.
Online course supporting children with medical conditions
For the full course on ‘Supporting children with medical conditions in schools and healthcare settings’ please visit https://onlinefirstaid.com/our-courses/supporting-pupils-with-medical-conditions-and-giving-medication-in-schools-and-childcare-settings/
This qualification is specifically targeted at staff working in schools, colleges, nurseries and childcare settings in both public and private sectors. The course is specifically designed around the needs of the education sector and highlights issues such as; working with parents and healthcare providers, the importance of records and documentation, consent, parental responsibilities and student self-medication. A printable certificate is available on completion.
Anaphylaxis, asthma, diabetes and epilepsy
Another course that focuses on specific conditions, will provide staff with a clear overview on various complex medical conditions. It is ideal as an annual refresher qualification in these areas. For proof of learning, a printable certificate is available on completion. ‘Anaphylaxis, asthma, diabetes and epilepsy’: https://onlinefirstaid.com/our-courses/anaphylaxis-asthma-diabetes-epilepsy/
First Aid for Life provide award-winning first aid training tailored to your needs. Please visit our site and learn more about our practical and online courses. It is vital to keep your skills current and refreshed. We are currently providing essential training for individuals and groups across the UK. In addition, we have a great range of online courses. These are ideal as refreshers for regulated qualifications or as Appointed Person qualifications.
You can attend a fully regulated Practical or Online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit https://firstaidforlife.org.uk or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.
First Aid for Life is a multi-award-winning, fully regulated first aid training provider. Our trainers are highly experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals who will tailor the training to your needs. Courses for groups or individuals at our venue or yours.
First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. In conclusion, we are not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken on this information.