Boost For Diabetics In Welsh Schools

All school staff should be given basic information about diabetes, a health charity has warned. Diabetes UK Cymru says better provision should be made for children with diabetes when they are at school.

In a report, published jointly with the Royal College of Nursing, the charity said there was good practice in many schools, but problems also arose as a result of lack of information or lack of confidence among school staff in dealing with diabetes.

The issues highlighted include:

  • Lack of understanding by some staff about the need for children with diabetes to eat outside of normal mealtimes;
  • Lack of suitable space for carrying out insulin injections;
  • Parents’ concerns about transferring children from primary school, where staff have become familiar with diabetes, to secondary school, where there is no certainty that the same care and expertise will be available.

Diabetes UK policy officer Margaret Knight said, “With appropriate support, children with diabetes can play as full a part in school life as any other child. Some schools are doing excellent work, but problems have arisen in some places. We need to ensure that consistent guidelines and policies are in place and that staff are sufficiently well informed and confident to support children with diabetes as needed.”

Tina Donnelly, director of RCN Wales said, “In Wales, provision in schools for children with diabetes varies greatly in quality from one area to another. There has to be a learning tool for school staff dealing with pupils with diabetes. The learning process should include being educated about clinical words and terms that describe diabetes and how to manage it, including insulin, ketones, blood sugars, bodily reactions and what to do in an emergency situation.

“Until these words become a part of everyday language and are fully understood, it is easy for confusion to occur. An approach where education is key would generate the kind of support that children with diabetes need.”

Diabetes UK and the RCN are calling for:

  • All school staff to be given basic information on diabetes, with more in-depth training for key individuals in schools with a child with diabetes;
  • All school nurses to be trained in diabetes care;
  • Allocating a suitable quiet room in schools for children to do their insulin injections, when required;
  • All schools where there is a child with diabetes to have a designated member of staff to link with the child, their family and all the professionals concerned in their care.

Diabetes UK and the RCN plan to produce a teaching manual for staff in schools where there is a child with diabetes. Copies of the report are available on-line here or contact Diabetes UK Cymru.