How Can the School Nurse Help Your Child with Diabetes?
Trusting other people to care and supervise your child can worry any parent; if your child has diabetes you may have more reason to worry than other parents. School nurses, who are registered nurses, understand those concerns and can help the school meet your child’s health needs while at school so that they are safe and diabetes doesn’t get in the way of their education.
Schools may have a school nurse in the school building all day, just a few hours, only certain days of the week or not at all. Not matter the situation, the school still needs to do actions to help your child be safe and to get the help they need to care for their diabetes so that they can learn.
School nurses develop an Individualized Healthcare Plan that outlines what care is needed in the school for your child as well as the when, where and who of that care. As a parent, you play an important role in developing this plan while the healthcare provider “orders” serve as the base. You and the school nurse are part of the Section 504 team. The Individual Health Care Plan can serve as the Section 504 plan or be part of it. These two plans support the nurse to do the following:
- Explaining what diabetes is to school staff and even to other students if needed.
People often need to hear information more than one time or have questions that come up. School nurses can help correct misunderstandings when they occur and to answer questions.
- Helping the school understand your child’s health needs (example: need to check blood sugars and to take insulin, what to do for low or high blood sugars)
- Helping the school understand how diabetes may affect your child and what “accommodations” are needed. For example, explaining that your child may be thirsty and need to have a water bottle with them.
- Giving insulin to your child or watching over them to make sure they get insulin when needed
- Training school staff to help your child including how to help in an emergency by giving Glucagon
- Supporting your efforts to teach your child how to take care of themselves and become independent while still being there for them when they need help
- Being a familiar person who “looks out” for your child through their school years
- Being a person you can talk to if you have concerns about your child’s diabetes in school
Call your school and ask to speak to the school nurse if you are enrolling your child with diabetes in school or your child was recently diagnosed. We are looking forward to helping your child succeed at school with diabetes!!
Linda M. Simon, BSN, RN
School Nurse - Missoula, MT