Asthma is the most common chronic childhood condition, its impact on daily life ranges from mild to severe. Childhood deaths from asthma, though thankfully rare still happen.
Children spend over a third of their waking hours at school, so it is important that their daily health needs are acknowledged. This is endorsed by the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Health Guidance on ‘Managing Medicines in Schools and Early Years Settings (2005)'
We as a community are very worried with the national statistics that indicate that one in three children has had a bad asthma attack at school and that half still do not carry their reliever inhalers with them.
To ensure all members of the school community suffering from asthma feel secure and are encouraged to participate in all activities, not withstanding any restrictions imposed by their condition.
This policy has been written with the advice from the National Asthma Campaign, the Department of Education and Employment and the school health service.
Trinity School welcomes all pupils with asthma. The staff of Trinity recognise that Asthma is an important condition affecting many school children. We aim to ensure that all pupils with asthma participate fully in all aspects of school life including games and PE. We will maintain records of pupils with asthma and the medication they take, and we will ensure the school environment is favourable to those suffering with asthma.
The School Nurses and First Aiders have been trained to recognise an asthma attack, and have a clear understanding of what to do.
Pupils who have an asthma attack will be dealt with in a sympathetic manner and will be treated, when appropriate, in private, to help maintain their dignity. Minor attacks should not interrupt a pupil's involvement in school.
The School recognises the need for immediate access to medication. Pupils are expected to carry and use their own labelled inhalers and are asked to keep a reserve supply in the school office, appropriately labelled and in date. Staff will allow pupils to take their asthma medication whenever necessary.
The School is aware that a clean environment is important to people with asthma, and has a non smoking policy on site.
Sympathetic consideration will be given to the management of particular situations such as games and science, to enable pupils who suffer from asthma to participate fully in all aspects of school life.
Information and awareness
- It is the responsibility of the asthmatic pupil's parents/carers to inform the School of their child's condition.
- All staff are to be made aware of the identity of these pupils by means of a list published in the staff common room.
- When the School is informed of an asthmatic individual a request will be made to the parents/carers regarding:
- A treatment protocol, signed by the individual's parent/guardian.
- The School will allow free access to inhalers at any time.
- Asthma sufferers must carry inhalers with them at all times.
- Pupils who are asthmatic will have this recorded on the computer in the School Office.
- Parents/carers are required to replace inhalers when necessary.
- Games and PE may trigger an asthma attack and in such cases pupils, acting on their GP's advice, may need to use their inhalers before such activities take place. Games staff will be aware, via the common room list, of asthma sufferers and should encourage pupils to keep their inhalers with them during exercise.
- Fumes from Science experiments may trigger symptoms or attacks in pupils with asthma. Fume cupboards should be used to avoid this problem, where appropriate and possible.
- Those leaving the School premises on a day or residential trip must ensure that they take their inhalers with them.
- All staff organising trips out of school should ascertain from parents/carers whether their son/daughter suffers from asthma and also details of appropriate inhalers. A list of these pupils must be made available to all those staff participating in the trip. Pupils may not be allowed to leave the school on a trip without their appropriate inhaler/s.
- Most attacks are mild and will resolve quickly (within 5-10 minutes) by pupils using their own reliever inhaler.
- If the attack is more severe ie the pupil feels no better in 5-10 minutes, is distressed or exhausted, is unable to talk in sentences, has blueness around the lips, or you have any doubts, that their usual reliever may not be effective, an ambulance should be called.
What to Do...
Cough... wheeze... tight chestedness
1. Ensure pupil's usual reliever inhaler (usually blue) is taken immediately. Stay calm. Encourage relaxation. Forgotten or lost inhaler? If pupil's condition does not indicate need to dial 999, ie. not a severe attack, contact pupil's parents to bring inhaler or collect the pupil. The inhaler usually works in 5-10 minutes. They can resume normal activities as soon as they feel better.
If they are no better in 5-10 minutes or they are:
- distressed or exhausted
- unable to talk in sentences
- blue around the lips
or if there are any doubts about their condition, this is a severe attack requiring immediate action. (NB:the pupil may not wheeze).
2. Give another dose of reliever inhaler.
3. Another adult dials 999 for an ambulance. Say that the pupil is "having a severe asthma attack requiring immediate attention". Staff should not take the pupil to hospital in their car as the pupil may deteriorate quickly.
4. Continue to give reliever inhaler until help arrives.
5. Give 1 puff per minute with 5 breaths per puff for up to 10 puffs. If the pupil has not recovered, continue for up to 20 puffs in total or until help arrives.
6. Inform parents/carers of the situation and actions taken.
We hope that this policy will enable children with asthma to lead a normal active life within school. It should provide a framework to guide all professionals; teaching, medical, nursing and others, towards current best practice.
As well as relievers, children may use preventer inhalers (brown, orange or purple), although use in school time would be unusual. Preventers reduce airway swelling and are usually taken twice daily, even when the child appears well. Some pupils may also take long-acting relievers (green or purple). These are again taken twice daily. Any of these inhalers may be needed during residential or long day trips along with any oral medication. School letters about trips etc, should include a reminder to pack inhalers.
First contact specimen letter
Asthma - How the School can help
Why is the School writing to parents of pupils who have asthma?
Trinity takes its responsibilities for pupils with asthma very seriously. We have recently reviewed our Asthma Policy, which I have enclosed with this letter for your information. Please read it carefully.
As part of accepted good practice, we are now asking all parents of pupils with asthma to help us to complete a School Asthma Record for their child. The record will help school staff to ensure pupils with asthma receive the best possible treatment at all times.
What will happen in school if my child has an asthma attack?
The record will give details of your son's current treatment and what steps to take if an asthma attack happens at school.
What are you asking parents to do?
Please fill in your child's details on the asthma record form. You may like to ask your doctor or asthma nurse to help you with this. Also, ask your pharmacist to label your child's inhaler - not just the box it comes in. Please also ensure that the School is supplied with an appropriately named spare inhaler, to be kept in the School Office.
When is the record updated?
You will be asked to update the record yearly, but please inform the School in writing if treatment is changed before this time so that the record can be updated.
If your child no longer suffers from asthma, or you feel our record of his/her asthma is inaccurate and s/he no longer requires medication, please inform the School in writing so that we can amend our records and remove your child's name from our asthma list.
I look forward to receiving the completed record and request that you return the completed form as soon as possible, to the School Office. Thank you for your co-operation in this important matter.
Claire Jackson RGN
Jane Rose RGN
Annual review specimen letter
Re: Annual Update of School Asthma Record
Your child's asthma record for last year is enclosed. I would be most grateful if you would fill out a new form for this year and return it as soon as possible to me, in the School Office.
May I also remind you to check that your child has enough inhalers and that all inhalers are in date and labelled by your pharmacist with your child's name and dosage details.
Thank you again for you co-operation
Claire Jackson RGN
Jane Rose RGN
Updated; June 2010