Schools to get diabetes training – but has the government done its homework?


Dr Peter Goss

Dr Peter Goss

The Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt has announced funding for a Type 1 Diabetes Management in Schools program that will train staff at selected schools to better support students with diabetes.

The $6 million initiative, announced on World Diabetes Day (14 November) but scarce on details, will commence in early 2020 in readiness for the school year.

Staff will be trained in glucose monitoring, insulin administration and recognition of hypoglycaemia. In addition, a new online portal will provide access to a range of relevant tools, resources, information and support.

Paediatrician Dr Peter Goss, director of the T1D Learning Centre told the limbic he welcomed anything that would improve diabetes management in schools.

However the fact that there are already freely available training modules for school staff made him question some aspects of the federal initiative.

Dr Goss was recently awarded the prestigious 2019 International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD) Prize for Innovation in Paediatric Diabetes Care for the T1D Learning Centre e-learning school modules.

“Now those resources are free, have been successfully used for a couple of years and are internationally endorsed and it looks like the government might be using scarce funds to reinvent the wheel to some degree,” he said.

“They could use those resources and better direct the funds to treating teams to actually develop what, internationally we see as the best relationships and that is the good close relationships between the parents, the schools and treating teams.”

“It’s all well and good to have education and training as we have done successfully for years, but we still need to have the implementation of safe insulin delivery in the school environment by people who can actually help young children.”

He also questioned which schools were going to be selected for the program.

“What is also concerning is there is $6 million to spend and when they started this process it would be available for all children at school. For $6 million, there is no reason why all kids can’t be supported.”

“It does raise questions about the efficient use of the money. What’s taking so long when there are good resources available? Why don’t they just get on with it and help?”

“Are they going to use that money to copy what is already available? That would be extremely disappointing if that was the case. A lot of people have done a lot of work to put that T1D learning together.”

The ISPAD Position Statement on Type 1 Diabetes in Schools, which Dr Goss co-chaired, recommends multiple levels of training for school personnel.

  • Level 1 – All school staff should be trained to have a basic understanding of diabetes including recognition of and appreciation of the urgency of treatment for low blood glucose.
  • Level 2 – Staff most responsible for the day-to-day management children with T1D should also be trained to initiate treatment for hypo or hyperglycaemia.
  • Level 3 – A higher level of training for other school personnel with or seeking authorisation and informed parental consent to administer insulin.

A new Parent Guide for families of children with T1D at school, developed with ISPAD guidance and endorsed by the Australian Paediatric Society, was also launched today and is available online from the T1D Learning Centre.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Health later clarified that the Schools Initiative will begin as an online program available to all schools. It will then be progressively rolled out to higher needs schools across the country.

Staff at selected schools will be trained in glucose monitoring, insulin administration and recognition of hypoglycaemia. Face to face training for designated school staff will be provided at schools by qualified health care professionals (involving the clinical treating team).

He said the program is led by Diabetes Australia with support from the Australian Diabetes Educators Association, JDRF Australia, the Australian Diabetes Society and the Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group.

The Diabetes in Schools website is now live at https://www.diabetesinschools.com.au/

 

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