A new diagnosis of diabetes can be a difficult and uncertain time for students and their family
It is a critical time for the school diabetes team to work together to give students the support they need to return to school safely and to remain healthy during their education. Older and capable students may take a more proactive role in the management of their condition but may nevertheless require significant support as they deal with their new diagnosis and treatment regime.
Designated staff volunteer to take on the role of providing assistance and support to the student and receive further training in diabetes management in schools. They may be required to supervise or assist with the monitoring of blood glucose levels and the administration of insulin. They will be a key point of contact and work closely with parents or carers of the student and health professionals in planning how to manage a student’s type 1 diabetes while at school.
What designated staff need
To effectively carry out their responsibilities, a designated staff member will need:
- a willingness to take on this important role and the further training and broader responsibilities it demands;
- support from the school principal to ensure that they are able to balance their role in supporting a student with type 1 diabetes alongside providing a suitable and safe learning environment for all of their students;
- a good relationship with the student’s parents or carers, to ensure that there is ongoing communication to enable them to support the student’s health needs at school, including when changes to the student’s diabetes management plan are made by the student’s treating health care team;
- consent from parents or carers to enable them to provide the necessary support to manage a student with type 1 diabetes, and to discuss and disclose information to the diabetes treating team as appropriate;
- a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities, including what is needed to discharge the school’s non-delegable duty of care and their own duty of care to the student, and to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made.
Supporting designated staff with their responsibilities
To effectively undertake their responsibility as a designated staff member, it is necessary that these staff members:
- understand the needs of the student with type 1 diabetes for whom they are responsible;
- work and communicate with parents or carers, the student, members of the diabetes treating team and the principal on the implementation of the student’s diabetes management plan at school;
- help determine the reasonable adjustments that need to be made to support the student and how these will be implemented in on a day-to-day basis in the school environment;
- complete interim training in diabetes management prior to the student’s return to school, if needed;
- complete training provided by the Diabetes in Schools Program, at Level 1, 2 and 3, which includes learning how to supervise or assist with monitoring blood glucose levels and the administration of insulin;
- support the student in the management of their diabetes when they are not able to do this themselves, which may include treating a low blood glucose level, checking blood glucose levels, and/or giving insulin if required;
- ensure medical equipment and medications are accessible to the student;
- communicate with parents and carers about how the student is coping with the changes to their school life that have come as a result of their diagnosis, including the social and mental health aspects.