Diabetes can impact on all aspects of a person's life, and similarly, all aspects of a student's school experience. However with appropriate planning and preparation, students with diabetes should be able to participate fully in all school activities.
However, a Diabetes organisation warns that there is a lack of a clear, consistent national approach to supporting young people with diabetes at school.
If not treated appropriately, diabetes can pose immediate & life-threatening health risks and must be considered with the same seriousness as acute asthma attacks and anaphylaxis.
Diabetes Victoria CEO, Craig Bennett, is calling for “a nationally consistent program” and a more equitable approach to supporting young people with diabetes, as well as staff, across all levels of education.
He told The Educator that schools and principals don’t always know the facts when it comes to preparing and responding to issues experienced by students with diabetes.
“Type 1 diabetes is not as prominent in planning, partly due to the fewer number of children with Type 1 than other medical conditions such as asthma and anaphylaxis which have a higher profile in the wider public awareness,” Bennett
“As such, there is a lack of awareness about Type 1 diabetes and how young people can and should be supported within the education setting.”
Bennett said Diabetes Victoria is encouraging principals, and all teachers to read the diabetes policy information on the DET website before a child with Type 1 diabetes is enrolled at their school.
According to Bennett, key things that should be in place at schools include:
- Providing for sufficient/appropriate number of key staff to attend appropriate comprehensive diabetes PD preferable before the child commences. All school staff should be encouraged to read Mastering Diabetes so they can and be familiar with beginning information about Type 1 diabetes
- Ensuring appropriate strategies are in place to account for staff absences and replacement (CRT) teachers so that the care & support of the child with diabetes is not compromised
- Consider the need for a school nurse position to be created if there isn't one already
- Ensure required current documentation is in place:Student Health Support Plan, diabetes Action and Management plans, Medication Authority (if needed)
- Support teachers who agree to assist with diabetes care tasks such as blood glucose checking, insulin injections, insulin pump button pushing, glucagon together with any additional training that might be required
Bennett pointed out that while not all schools will have a child enrolled now, they could in the future, and this alone calls for a greater level of preparation.
“We know of some schools in Victoria where there are up to 10 children enrolled at a single school,” he said.
“There is no cure for Type 1, and diagnosis rates are increasing; it's not going away, so we need to do better for the children and families living with this chronic condition.”
Meanwhile, schools are preparing to take on another deadly virus
On Monday it was reported that every Year 11 and 12 student in NSW will be offered a free meningococcal vaccination to help prevent a deadly new strain from taking hold in the state’s schools.
In a statement, NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, said that the $9m vaccination program, due to start in Term 2, will see 180,000 vulnerable teenagers in all high schools eligible to be vaccinated.
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