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Best Practice for School Health Care Plans

If a child in your school has a physical or mental health condition a school health care plan will help to ensure they can play a full and active part in school life, stay healthy and fulfil their potential.  An individual healthcare plan – a document that sets out a child’s medical needs and how they should be handled – can help to make this easier for everyone involved in the child’s care and education.

Who needs a healthcare plan?

There’s no specific guidance on what sort of medical conditions warrant an individual healthcare plan, and it’s up to schools to decide if your child needs one. A child with a severe or complex medical problem or needs specialist care, a healthcare plan is likely to be essential, but for less complicated conditions, it may not be necessary. Common conditions that might require an individual healthcare plan include asthma, epilepsy, diabetes, allergies and continence issues, although there are many other circumstances in which a child will need a healthcare plan.

Schools are advised to use common sense when deciding whether a child should have a healthcare plan, and should take your views into account. They must also consider each child’s case individually – children vary in how they cope with medical conditions, and some may need extra help to manage a condition that another child is able to handle by themselves.

What does a health care plan include?

When deciding what information should be recorded on individual healthcare plans, the governing body should consider the following:
  • the medical condition, its triggers, signs, symptoms and treatments
  • the pupil’s resulting needs, including medication (dose, side effects and storage) and other treatments, time, facilities, equipment, testing, access to food and drink where this is used to manage their condition, dietary requirements and environmental issues
  • the level of support needed including in emergencies. If a child is self-managing their medication, this should be clearly stated with appropriate arrangements for monitoring
  • who will provide this support, their training needs, expectations of their role and confirmation of proficiency to provide support for the child’s medical condition from a healthcare professional; and cover arrangements for when they are unavailable
  • who in the school needs to be aware of the child’s condition and the support required
  • arrangements for written permission from parents and the headteacher for medication to be administered by a member of staff, or self-administered by the pupil during school hours
  • separate arrangements or procedures required for school trips or other school activities outside of the normal school timetable that will ensure the child can participate, e.g. risk assessments
  • where confidentiality issues are raised by the parent/child, the designated individuals to be entrusted with information about the child’s condition
  • what to do in an emergency, including whom to contact, and contingency arrangements. Some children may have an emergency healthcare plan prepared by their lead clinician that could be used to inform development of their individual healthcare plan.

If a child will need to be given medication at school, you should also ask the parents/ carers to fill in a form giving details of their treatment and permission for staff members to administer it (or for the child to take it themselves, if they are old enough and able to do so).

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