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A new school year begins: helping your child manage their diabetes at school

Preparing your child's individual care plan

Depending on their age, temperament and level of independence, your child will have their own particular treatment and care needs for their diabetes. Diabetes management and treatment is different for everyone and for this reason, several clinical practice guidelines recommend that you write an individual care plan.

The individual care plan is a document detailing your child's specific needs for diabetes management at school. You can write it with the help of the healthcare professional that supports your child and it will most likely include:

  • your name, your child's name and date of birth, the age at which your child was diagnosed with diabetes and the type of diabetes;
  • your telephone number, as well as the numbers of your child's GP and any emergency contact numbers;
  • how your child's blood glucose is monitored;
  • administration methods for insulin and/or medication;
  • information on how to use the blood glucose monitoring and insulin administration devices;
  • symptoms and treatment of hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia;
  • dietary recommendations;
  • precautions to take during physical exercise;
  • what your child is able to do on their own and what they need help with;
  • your statement of consent allowing designated school staff to provide emergency care for your child.

Communicating with school staff

You are encouraged to talk  to the school staff where possible, giving them all the information they need to help your child manage their diabetes from the very first day of school.

It might therefore be a good idea, before the term starts, to arrange meetings with the headteacher, teachers, school nurse and, perhaps, any other people who will be interacting with your child during the school year.

It may be useful to use this meeting to explain to all staff involved what diabetes is, what its management involves and what can be done to help. They need to be aware of:

  • allowing your child to monitor their blood glucose and administer insulin at any time, with adult supervision if needed; 
  • allowing your child to always have to hand (on their desk or in their school bag) their blood glucose monitor and a fast-acting source of sugar to treat hypoglycaemia. Glucagon injection kits should also be made available for treating severe hypoglycaemia and should be stored in a refrigerator;
  • informing you about the food served in the school canteen (amount of carbohydrates, portion sizes) and about school activities;
  • allowing your child to eat and go to the toilet whenever necessary;
  • providing access to a clean, private area with a water source for self-care;
  • providing a container for sharps and used medical equipment, and a refrigerator or other cool place to store insulin;
  • allowing your child to see the nurse or school counsellor at any time;
  • arranging for exams and tests if necessary.

This meeting will also give you the opportunity to review the individual care plan that is unique to your child, that you will have prepared beforehand.

Parent and child packing school bag

 

What to put in your child's schoolbag

Another recommendation that comes from clinical guidelines is to ensure that your child always has the following items at school:

  • medical devices and/or medication and any instruction manuals;
  • a hypo snack; a sweet drink like a fruit juice and other snacks;
  • their individual care plan;
  • a notebook to record blood glucose measurements and medical events (hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia).

Lastly, to make sure that the school year goes as smoothly as possible, it is a good idea to talk to school staff regularly. The school should inform you of any changes in your child's schedule (e.g. specific sports activities, school trips or special meals) and blood glucose levels so that you can adjust your child's treatment and maintain blood glucose levels.

References

  1. S.E Lawrence. et al. Managing type 1 diabetes in school: Recommendations for policy and practice. Paediatr Child Health January/February 2015;20(1):35-44. doi: 10.1093/pch/20.1.35.
  2. Bratina N, Forsander G, Annan F, et al. ISPAD Clinical Practice Consensus Guidelines 2018: Management and support of children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes in school. Pediatr Diabetes. 2018 Oct;19 Suppl 27:287-301. doi: 10.1111/pedi.12743.
  3. ADA. Diabetes Care in the School and Day Care Setting. Diabetes Care Volume 37, (Supplement 1) S91-S96, Jan. 2014. doi :10.2337/dc14-S091.
  4. Silver Bahendeka, Ramaiya Kaushik, Andrew Babu Swai, Fredrick Otieno, Sarita Bajaj, Sanjay Kalra, Charlotte M Bavuma, Claudine Karigire. EADSG Guidelines: Insulin Storage and Optimisation of Injection Technique in Diabetes Management. Diabetes Ther. 2019 Apr;10(2):341-366. doi: 10.1007/s13300-019-0574-x. Epub 2019 Feb 27.

About Making Diabetes Easier

Air Liquide Healthcare UK is committed to improving quality of life for people with diabetes. Our healthcare teams provide patients and their loved ones with education, support and personalisation of care.

Our mission? #makingdiabeteseasier

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