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Up-to-date health care plans: vital for children’s wellbeing

3 September 2019

Recently some services have asked about their responsibilities when caring for children with health conditions. This might be a child with asthma, diabetes or a severe food allergy.

All education and care services have a legal responsibility on this matter. They must comply with the Education and Care Services National Regulations.

In particular, services should see regulation 168 that lists the policies that education and care services must have. Regulation 90 covers the requirement for a medical conditions policy.

Each child with a diagnosed health condition must have a current health care plan (also known as an emergency management plan).

The plan must be completed by a medical practitioner and include a start and review date. It is vital that it’s kept up to date, as health needs may change over time.

You must also complete a risk-minimisation plan with the child’s family.

So that staff members know how to manage the condition and reduce risk, a communication plan is also required for the service.

Ensure your service has policies for dealing with medical conditions in children. Review the policies regularly to ensure they are still suitable.

Maria Said, CEO of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, said food allergy was common in young children and having current plans, policies and procedures increased children’s safety.

“It is critical that each child with food allergy has a current health care plan,” she said.

Out-of-school-hours care services located at a school may want to work with the school. This is to ensure their policies and procedures are supportive of each other and meet their shared duty of care.

The plans you need

Authorised officers from the Education Standards Board review children’s completed health care plans during assessment and rating or monitoring visits. This is to ensure compliance with regulation 90 and the health and safety of children. There are three plans needed:

  1. health care plan (aka emergency management plan)
  2. risk-minimisation plan
  3. communication plan.
Growing child, changing plan

As children grow, their health conditions can change. So can the medicine or other care they need. Here is a case study of ‘Ben’ to show how important up-to-date plans are.

Ben is six years old and has asthma and an anaphylactic reaction to nuts. He goes to out-of-school-hours care twice a week and has health care plans from his doctor. His asthma plan needs reviewing every 12 months. His anaphylaxis plan only needs reviewing every two years as his condition is stable. Ben’s asthma plan details what he or carers should do if he is unwell from asthma, including taking four puffs of his reliever medication every four hours. The anaphylaxis plan says what Ben is allergic to and to administer a children’s EpiPen (which he carries at all times) if he has an anaphylactic reaction and to call 000 for an ambulance. When the doctor reviews his asthma plan, she increases the reliever medication to six puff every four hours. When the anaphylaxis plan is next reviewed, the doctor prescribes Ben an adult EpiPen. If Ben’s health care plans hadn’t had review dates, the plans and medications he had may not have helped him in an emergency.

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