education.vic.gov.au

For specific information about COVID-19 refer to the COVID-19 — School Operations Advice on PAL, which brings together key operational information for schools. Schools can also refer to the COVID-19 adviceExternal Link on the Department's website for information and updates.

Policy

This policy explains the processes, procedures and documentation that are required for schools to adequately support and respond to students with identified health care needs, complex medical needs and who require personal care support.

Summary

  • Government schools have a responsibility to provide equitable access to education and respond to diverse student needs, including health care needs.
  • Schools must develop a local Health Care Needs policy that addresses supports and management for students with identified health care needs. There is a policy template available on the School Policy Templates PortalExternal Link (staff login required) that schools can use and adapt to their local context.
  • A Student health support plan (DOCX)External Link must be completed for each student with an identified health care need, other than anaphylaxis or an allergy (refer to Anaphylaxis and Allergies about the requirements for those conditions).
  • Schools must designate staff to provide complex medical care and personal care support.
  • Schools must ensure that there is continuity of education for students with identified health care needs.
  • Schools should refer to the Guidance tab for further advice on health care needs planning, health support planning forms for different conditions and complex medical care supports.

Details

Schools have a responsibility to provide equitable access to education and respond to diverse student needs, including health care needsExternal Link .

Research and evidence suggests early intervention to address a health care needs is critical to mitigate life-long disadvantages, particularly for students in their early years.

Schools must:

  • support and make reasonable adjustments for students with health care needs
  • develop, review and implement a Student health support plan (DOCX)External Link to support the student’s health care needs when a health care need is identified
  • allocate time for relevant staff to discuss and review health support planning policies, processes and individual student plans

Duty of care

Staff have a duty of care to take reasonable steps to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm to students. This includes supporting and responding to the health care needs of all students. Refer to the Department’s policy on Duty of Care for further information.

Development of a local health care needs policy

Schools must have policies and procedures available to the school community for:

  • supporting students with specific health care needs and
  • the management of medication

Templates to help schools develop their own local policies for Health Care NeedsExternal Link , First AidExternal Link (including arrangements for ill students) and MedicationExternal Link are available on the School Policy Templates PortalExternal Link (staff login required).

Planning for students with identified health care needs

A Student health support plan (DOCX)External Link must be completed for each student with an identified health care need, other than anaphylaxis or an allergy (refer to Anaphylaxis and Allergies about the requirements for those conditions).

To develop a student health support plan, schools must:

  • work with families to develop the plan, guided by advice from the student’s treating medical/health practitioner
  • include actions in the plan as to how the school will support the student’s health care needs
  • communicate regularly with parents about the student’s health care needs at the school and update the plan if necessary.

Students with asthma, diabetes, or epilepsy need to provide their (condition specific) health management plan to the school, and have a student health support plan developed, which outlines how the school will support the student’s health care needs.

Provision of complex medical care at school

The Department does not expect or require teachers to provide complex medical care. When it is agreed that specialised medical procedures may be needed to enable a student to attend school then:

  • designated school staff must receive specific training to allow them to meet the student’s individual health care need
  • the Student health support plan (DOCX)External Link should:
    • be guided by medical advice received by the student’s medical practitioner via the Department’s General medical advice form (DOC)External Link
    • describe specific training requirements
    • include procedures that make use of local medical services such as ambulances, local doctors, health centres, hospitals and community nurses when practical.

Further guidance on assisting students with complex medical care needs can be found in Chapter 2 of the Guidance tab.

Curriculum planning and support for students with specific health care needs

For students with specific health support needs, schools must:

  • ensure continuity and relevance of the education program
  • design curriculum that allows delivery and assessment for students who need to:
    • transition between hospital, home and school
    • attend school part-time or episodically
    • support the student’s connection to school, including developing and maintaining social networks.

The school in which the student is enrolled retains responsibility for the student’s curriculum when they are in hospital or recuperating at home. Hospital based education staff may also assist the school in supporting the student.

Schools should refer to Chapter 4 of the Guidance tab for further information on supporting students with long term special education and other support needs.

Other management strategies for students with specific health care needs

Training for school staff

Schools must access training for school staff:

  • in basic first aid
  • to meet specific student health needs not covered under basic first aid training, such as managing asthma or epilepsy
  • to meet complex medical care needs, such as the Schoolcare ProgramExternal Link .

Communication, physical activity and camps

Schools must communicate with families about any health or development concerns. It is also important for schools to make reasonable adjustments to enable students with health care needs to participate in physical education and other physical activities, camps and excursions wherever possible.

Personal Care Support

Schools must:

As with all health and personal care support, assisting a student with the management of personal hygiene routines must be conducted in a manner that maximises the student’s safety, comfort, independence, dignity, privacy and learning. Management practices must also reflect occupational health and safety standards for the school.

Schools should consider whether assistance and advice is required from specialists such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists or speech pathologists, or if the student is eligible for support from the Schoolcare program.

Note that there are specific forms that may be completed by a medical / health care practitioner for the following circumstances:

Each form is also available in the Resources tab.

Definitions

Complex Medical Care
Complex medical care often requires school staff to undertake specific training to meet the student’s individual health needs. These needs cannot be addressed through basic first aid training and staff may be involved in:

  • tracheostomy care
  • seizure management
  • medication by injection or rectal suppository
  • administering suction
  • tube feeding
  • specialised medical procedures.

Personal Care Support
Personal care support is daily living support, usually provided by parents or carers. Students may require the provision of assistance for:

  • toileting and personal hygiene
  • eating and drinking
  • transferring and positioning of the student.

Students may need personal care support due to:

  • age
  • developmental delay
  • medical conditions
  • short term circumstances (such as a student wearing a plaster cast)
  • long term circumstances (such as complex medical care needs).

Relevant legislation

Department policy on supporting and responding to students with identified health care needs

Reviewed 09 December 2021

Policy last updated

19 April 2021

Scope

  • Schools

Contact

Health Promotion, Prevention and Advice

Was this page helpful?