The most basic guidance is to check your insurance if you are a privately run setting. Below are a few of my top tips to produce a working, individual health care plan.
1) Get a prescribing doctor or pediatrics allergy clinic to give you advice regarding emergency treatment plan and prescribed medication. For some parents this is the GP, or a local consultant, but ideally this should come from the allergy clinic/ immunologist. However most allergy clinics are run part time and Parents may be referred to different medical experts depending on the condition, for example many children with food allergies have asthma, and rely on their asthma doctor for food allergy advice. It is important to get a written emergency plan from the treating doctor to act as a starting point for the individual health care plan.
2) Get a holistic picture of the child’s allergies, so that you can gain a clearer picture of their health needs. Children with food allergies often have other chronic conditions such as asthma, eczema, and environmental allergies. These conditions all play their role in allergic reactions, and have an impact on education and general health of child. For instance eczema, asthma and rhinitis disturb sleep patterns, and can lead to poor concentration, infection and greater time off school with illness. Environmental allergies may be more problematic at certain times of year allergies such as tree pollen hay fever or mold allergy and again the all year round allergies such as dust mite, and animal dander have an impact on this child’s health and education. It may be worth questioning how you can make simple adaptions to the environment of setting to make this child more comfortable.
3) Medication changes: During the hay fever/tree pollen season a child may be on greater levels of antihistamine, nasal sprays and eye drops, and medication again has an impact on concentration ability due to side effects, or the eye, nose, throat, skin and rise in asthma irritation during this time of year.
4) Buy a trainer auto injector for your setting. Practice using it every term as a refresher. Re-visit descriptions of an allergic reaction and if you have time, practice a scenario that may happen in your setting should an accidental ingestion (or new allergy) is discovered.
5) Parental duties: teaching child not to share food. To update on any new allergy or medical condition the child may have. To be open to communication from staff queries that you may have, and vice versa so that you are forming a working plan around the child. If a child has a long list of food allergies parents tend to teach child to not accept food from adults other than them and ask if parents have read label to see if it’s safe. If that is the case, staff should ensure they do likewise and check with parents.
6) Be aware that parents may have seen their child have a very severe reaction to food and may have high levels of stress. They are forming an assessment on you as a teacher / EY practitioner, they want you to understand the serious of the condition, keep their child safe, provide an inclusive school experience, and be capable of reacting and using the agreed emergency plan.
7) Remember that the important social skills learnt in the early years, to make secure friendships, to be confidant and to trust others are highly important for these children. Those skills will ensure that they grow up to become confident people with regard to their allergies. We cannot assume that each child will outgrow their allergies, many become lifelong allergic people and they need to be taught the skills needed to keep themselves safe.