A new national program is set to ease the strain of type 1 diabetes on families by helping to ensure that principals, teachers and school staff have the support, training and tools they need to support students with type 1 diabetes.
According to the findings of a recent survey one in every four parents of a child with type 1 diabetes attends the school at least once a week to administer insulin for their child.
Professor Greg Johnson, CEO Diabetes Australia said, “There are around 11,000 school students with type 1 diabetes across Australia so this is an enormous burden. Every one of these students may need insulin injections or other important diabetes management support during school.”
The new program is funded by the Australian Government and part of the National Diabetes Services Scheme, It will provide an integrated package of information, training and support for parents and families, schools and staff, and health professionals.
“We have consulted extensively with school principals, teachers and the education sector who clearly indicated they wanted more support, training and tools to help them support students with type 1 diabetes,” said Professor Johnson.
National survey results
The national survey of parents revealed the serious issues and impacts of type 1 diabetes on the school experience of these children:
- 25% of parents have to visit school at least once a week to administer insulin
- 65% of children with diabetes had a low or high blood glucose episode that required the parent to attend
- 71% of children were unable to attend school because of a diabetes-related issue
- 53% of parents believed diabetes had impacted on their child’s ability to fully participate in school related activities
- 10% of the children visited the doctor or emergency department because of a severe diabetes episode at school
- Students with diabetes missed an average of more than two weeks of school a year as a result of type 1 diabetes
- 49% of parents believe staff are not adequately trained to support children with type 1 diabetes.
Professor Johnson said the results painted a clear picture of why the program was needed.
“Principals, teachers and school staff do a great job – but it is clear that more training and support is needed” he said.
About the Diabetes in Schools Program
The new program will provide nationally consistent support and training at three levels.
Level 1 Support
Level 1 is basic introductory information about type 1 diabetes that all school staff should have. This will be available through a new web portal that provides access to a range of tools, resources, information and support to help school staff to better understand how to support students with type 1 diabetes.
Level 2 Support
Level 2 support and training is available for school staff who are directly involved in supporting students with type 1 diabetes. This can be access through online modules (for all schools) or group education workshops (in some States). Training covers type 1 diabetes and food, monitoring glucose levels, insulin and other key issues.
Level 3 Support
Level 3 support offers face-to-face training at the school which is individualised for a particular student and provided, where possible, by a health professional from the student’s diabetes treating team (often a hospital).
It will cover all key aspects of support for that student including glucose monitoring, insulin administration and glucagon administration. This training will be prioritised to schools with students who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes or require support to administer insulin.
Level 3 services will be delivered by some of Australia’s leading paediatric diabetes centers and will roll out progressively across Australia commencing from March 2020.
Ensuring the health and safety of children with type 1
Professor Johnson acknowledged and thanked the Health Minister, Hon Greg Hunt MP for supporting and funding the new national program.
“This is a key issue in ensuring the short- and long-term health of children with type 1 diabetes and we’d like to thank the Australian Government and Health Minister Greg Hunt for funding this vital initiative,” he said.
The program is built on extensive consultation with principals, teachers, parents and health professionals and provides a range of tools, resources, information, training and support to help schools support students with type 1 diabetes.
Visit the program website for more information: diabetesinschools.com.au