Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 1.5: Understand how to support children who are unwell
Learning outcome: Understand the role of the Early Years practitioner when supporting children who are chronically ill
Assessment criteria: Describe the responsibilities of the Early Years practitioner when supporting a child who has a chronic health condition in relation to: training and development needs, partnership working, inclusive practice, support for self
Chronic health conditions are defined by the NHS as “a health problem that requires ongoing management over a period of years or decades and is one that cannot currently be cured but can be controlled with the use of medication and/or other therapies.” Examples of chronic health conditions include diabetes, asthma and cancer.
Children with chronic health conditions may require additional help and support from Early Years practitioners. Some of a practitioner’s responsibilities in relation to chronic health conditions are explored below.
Training and development needs
Early Years practitioners need to be aware of the specific needs of children with chronic health conditions. This includes understanding the condition itself, how it may impact the child’s physical, social and emotional development, and the child’s additional needs.
Practitioners may need to undergo specific training to meet the child’s needs. For example, if a child has learning disability, the practitioners may need to learn Makaton to communicate with the effectively. Or if a child has diabetes, the practitioner may need training on providing insulin and performing blood-sugar tests. Formal training will also help practioners to notice any symptoms of the condition or side effects from medication.
Practitioners can also increase their understanding of medical conditions by conducting their own research or contacting other professionals or agencies for guidance.
It is essential for Early Years practitioners to work in partnership with others that are involved in the healthcare of the child. This includes sharing information with parents/carers as well as other professionals, such as nurses.
This ensures that all the child’s needs are consistently met and contributes to positive outcomes.
A child that has a chronic health condition should not be prevented from participating in the same activities as their peers. In some cases, adaptations to an activity may need to be made to ensure the child’s involvement.
It is also important for practitioners to ensure that children with chronic conditions are not treated unfairly or discriminated against. All children should be treated as unique individuals and not labelled or stereotyped because of their condition – and discrimination should always be challenged.
Support for self
Working with a child with a chronic health condition can be stressful and emotional, so it is essential that Early Years practitioners have an appropriate support network in place.
Employers are increasingly recognising the importance of the wellbeing of their employees and your organisation may offer related third-party services or signposting.
Talking with your manager or co-workers should can help to relieve stress. It allows practitioners to ‘offload’ their concerns, and discussions may reveal new coping strategies.
If you are feeling stressed, you should always discuss this with your manager. In more severe cases, a visit to your GP may be needed.