Diabetes in Schools Program
Parents, Brooke and James Henderson, provide the Type1Screen Team with an account of what the soon-to-be introduced Diabetes in Schools Program means to them…
The recent announcement of Diabetes Australia’s Diabetes in Schools Program is a welcome change to the education currently provided to educators. It will provide information, training and support for schools and families to better support their children. Many parents and teachers find school a stressful situation. For parents, it is leaving your child in the hands of someone who is not medically trained or adequately prepared to look after their diabetes. For teachers, it is the stress of constantly supporting the medical condition of a student, whose health status can change very quickly. First aid courses provided by schools do not adequately provide enough information or training for staff who have the responsibility of caring for a child with diabetes. With this program being launched into schools from May 2020, all this will change.
When our son Jack was diagnosed, I was very afraid to leave him at school. I was still trying to get my head around the situation and this huge life change, and the thought of leaving him with a teacher with little education of his needs was terrifying. Fortunately for us, my son’s school has a full-time nurse, and she has been amazing in supporting Jack and assisting him medically. Unfortunately, not all parents are as lucky as us. I have heard of many cases of teachers not adequately supporting their students with diabetes; not due to lack of concern, but lack of education.
As teachers ourselves, we are very aware of the duty of care we are legally obligated to provide students under our care. Prior to this program being introduced, information given to staff at schools was minimal and seemed to be solely reliant on parents providing resources to classroom teachers. School management plans have improved since Jack’s diagnosis. However, there is still not enough information to adequately supervise, care and treat a child with diabetes. Many parents are required to attend school to inject insulin, go on excursions and school camps, to reassure them that their child is receiving the constant care needed.
With this training introduced, all staff, teachers and parents will be provided with valuable information to improve their knowledge and care of children with type 1 diabetes. The opportunity to have qualified medical staff attend the school and speak with the staff of a newly diagnosed child is fantastic. I would have loved this to have been available when Jack was diagnosed in 2014. Being new to it ourselves at the time, it was very challenging educating his teachers when we were still learning all about it ourselves. We have spent the past 6 years educating ourselves and others around us about diabetes. Jack has worked hard to remove stereotypes associated with it, and to better educate his peers so they understand how having diabetes has affected his life, but not defined who he is. Jack is hypo unaware and we are fortunate to have a government funded CGM, which provides even more support and peace of mind, particularly when he is sleeping, or not in our care.
The introduction of the Diabetes in Schools Program is certainly a step in the right direction. Teachers and staff will receive the education they require, through the resources on the site, the modules they can complete and the individualised face-to-face training they have the option to receive. With this being a nation-wide program, it means that information and training provided will be consistent across Australia, and not vary from state to state. I will be recommending my school to invest in it and better educate their staff by utilizing this new online program.
Brooke and James Henderson