Administration of medicines in schools
Increasingly GMB members working in schools are being asked to administer medicines to children. With the rise in childhood asthma and allergies, reduction in school nurses and with education becoming more inclusive, increasingly GMB members working in schools are being asked to administer medicines to children.
Ideally parents or guardians should be encouraged to administer medicines themselves by visiting the school or by the head allowing children home at designated intervals, in many circumstances this will be impractical, for example, if the parents or guardians are working. Administration of medicines and supporting pupils with complex health and welfare needs is just one of the areas in which the jobs of school support staff have become more responsible and highly skilled in recent years.
There is no legal duty which requires school staff to administer medication – this is a voluntary role. GMB members should only agree to administer medicines if there are appropriate policies, guidelines and training in in place and of course, feel confident in doing so.
Types of medication
There are two main circumstances under which schools may be requested to administer medicines.
- For children with chronic conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy or asthma,
- For children recovering from short term illnesses who may be well enough to attend school but need to finish a course of medication.
Medication can take many forms including tablets, eye drops, inhalers, injections, creams and suppositories.
Policies and Procedures
The employer, either the governing body or the Local Education Authority is responsible for ensuring that a school has an up to date Health and Safety policy. This should include clear procedures for the administration of medicine.
The policy should include:
- The employers responsibility
- Details on insurance cover for staff
- The person responsible for over seeing the policy
- The need for prior agreements with parents
- A commitment to staff training
- Record keeping procedures
- Storage of, and access to medicines
- Pupils carrying and taking their own medicine
- Emergency procedures
- Safe disposal of drugs and equipment
- Information on access to specialist advice
- When there is a need for a witness
No one should undertake any task without the appropriate and adequate training. First aid training alone is not adequate for members who volunteer to administer medicines.
Training should cover:
- The policy and procedure
- Administration methods e.g. eye drops
- Infection control measures
- Record keeping
- Safe storage of medicines and equipment
- Safe disposal of medicines and equipment
- Potential side effects and how to recognise them
- Emergency procedures
- contact numbers for parents and GPs
- Action to be taken if the pupil refuses medication
Training should be regularly reviewed and updated
Except where pupils carry their own medication, e.g. Inhalers, all medicines should be stored in a secure locked location. Volumes of medicine should be as low as possible. Medication should be clearly labelled and kept in their original containers. Where medicines are refrigerated they should be placed in airtight containers. Where medicines are locked away responsible staff should know where the keys are kept.
This should include:
- Name, address and date of birth of pupil
- Name of medication
- Method of administration
- Time and frequency of medication
- Any side effects
- Contact details of parent
- Any changes in the dosage of the medication should be notified in writing
Posted: 24th August 2016