Childhood Asthma Management In Australian Schools: Health Policies And Principles

Childhood Asthma in Australia

During the first three years of life, about seventeen percent of Australian infants are affected by wheeze or asthma. Also, forty-one percent of the non-asthmatic children with four to five years of age are likely to experience asthma by the time they hit the seventh year (Marks et al., 2009). Asthma is among the most vital reasons that cause the children to visit doctors, be admitted to healthcare facilities, and be absent from schools. For instance, it is denoted that about one in every ten children in Australia has been affected by asthma. Fortunately, if childhood asthma is well managed, the children can be able to live active and healthy lives (Betterhealth.vic.gov.au., 2018). 

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The purpose of this policy is to make sure that Australian schools assist those children who are diagnosed with asthma (Education.vic.gov.au, 2018). The policy indicates that the schools must have an asthma care plan and a student health support plan for every child who is diagnosed with asthma. Also, the school should implement a general institutional policy that facilitates the management of asthma by providing Asthma Emergency Kit content, medication storage, awareness training for the staff and managing and storing confidential health information.

The schools should make sure that all the staff members with the responsibility of taking care of students are sufficiently trained to evaluate and address emergency incidences that result from asthma. Thus, to accomplish such tasks, the staff members should attend the free education sessions on asthma carried out in every three years. Such sessions can be undertaken via the e-learning hub or the asthma health and community professional studies (Education.vic.gov.au, 2018).

Also, the policy indicates that those staff members (nurses and sports or physical education teachers) who are directly responsible for the wellbeing of the students attend and complete the recognised Emergency Asthma Management sessions that are always offered after every three years. Moreover, the staff members should adhere to the warnings and advice from the asthma organizations and education departments associated with a possible outbreak of asthma activities. Lastly, according to the policy, the schools should provide management equipment that can be used during asthma emergencies in the form of emergency kits as indicated by the associated policies such as the Asthma Emergency Kit policy.

The asthma policy was documented based on the discussion with The Asthma Foundation of Victoria. This policy also incorporates the Asthma and the Child in Care Model Policy which is one of the foundation’s policies on childhood asthma in Australia (Asthma Guidelines, 2017).

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Asthma Policy in Schools

According to the goals of the policy, the parents/guardians, staff members, and educators should be aware of their responsibilities and engage in the most relevant practices of managing asthma. They should also make sure that all essential information for the effective control of childhood asthma is gathered and documented in order to provide the necessary attention and care to those children affected asthma. Furthermore, they should also address the needs of non-asthmatic children who have breathing challenges as these indicate potential asthma attacks (Asthma Guidelines, 2017).

In terms of values, the policy focuses on providing healthy and safe surrounding for both the asthmatic and non-asthmatic children. Thus, the environment enables children who have already been diagnosed with asthma to utilize their full potential when participating in various activities. Also, the environment should outline a vivid set of procedures and principles that should be adhered to when managing asthma incidences. Lastly, educators, parents or guardians and staff should be educated and contribute to public awareness regarding asthma when dealing with both the asthmatic and non- asthmatic children.

Based on this policy, asthmatic children are supported through procedures and guidelines that are asthma friendly by ensuring that every child, visitor and staff member can easily access the asthma first aid services during emergencies (Asthmaustralia.org.au, 2018).

The policy outlines its roles and responsibilities based on the different stakeholders. For instance, the children are assisted to self-control their asthmatic condition based on the development stage and age as the policy explains the asthma condition, care guidelines and provides effective asthma care. The policy also emphasises that the parents or guardians should provide a care plan for asthma approved by the relevant health experts such as the treating doctor. Besides, the parents should provide the original, labelled, and clearly dated medication for the children. If the mask and spacer are needed, parents or guardians provide them and notify the staff in case of any variations in asthma management of their children. The staff, on the other hand, should record asthma incidences and provide the relevant information to the parents or guardians as an issue of priority (Asthmaustralia.org.au, 2018). The staff should also implement a replacement policy for the spacer and mask, label and give the mask or spacer utilized from the asthma emergency kit to the particular child who used them for future utilization. Or else, the used mask or spacers should be disposed of carefully. Also, the staff should frequently review the asthma documentation to guarantee compliance with the guidelines and reduce the exposure of children to common asthma triggers. 

Values and Goals of Asthma Policy

According to the World Health Organization, health promotion refers to the process of empowering individuals to improve their control over and enhance their health. Also, it focuses on different types of health programmes utilized in various countries that move beyond the concentration on personal risk behaviour to easing the healthy choice through a number of social and environmental interventions (World Health Organization, 2018).

Health promotion has five major principles which can be useful in childhood asthma management. First, health promotion is context centred. Thus, it concentrates on the essential economic and social factors for evaluating ethnic, gender and socio-economic gaps in the management of asthma pattern within the Australian children. Secondly, health promotion incorporates a multi-dimensional aspect of health. It, therefore, addresses the mental, social and physical dimensions in childhood asthma management (World Health Organization, 2018). Thirdly, it reinforces the general role of the state in health promotion, meaning that all relevant government levels have the obligation and accountability for improving, protecting and maintaining the health of Australian children by including childhood asthma management as a key health component. In the fourth place, health promotion advocates for public good health since it is helpful to the whole community, its economic and social development. Lastly, health promotion focuses on participation as a vital principle in supporting health. Thus, the involvement of the community in managing and controlling childhood asthma conditions is a vital principle in health promotion.

Primary health care refers to the initial contact level between the health care system and both the asthmatic and non-asthmatic children. In Australia, primary health care integrates health promotion with individual care, the prevention of childhood asthma and society development as a whole.  Also, it encompasses the linking aspects of empowerment, inter-sectional collaboration, self-determination, access and equity in the management of childhood asthma. It also includes the comprehension of political, cultural, economic and social factors of childhood asthma management (World Health Organization, 2018).

Based on the practice scope, nurses should deliver socially acceptable, equally accessible, medically sound and primary health care to childhood asthma in Australia. Therefore, they should work interdependently and independently as a team to prioritise those who require attention and deal with health inequalities. Also, they should enhance individual and societal self-reliance, control and participation in childhood asthma management. Lastly, they should promote partnership and collaboration with relevant bodies to promote childhood asthma care (World Health Organization, 2018).

The Australian health care system encourages public policies beneficial to children with asthma. Public policy and advocacy work are vital for guaranteeing the safety and health of asthmatic children. Thus, the relevant stakeholders advocate for state and federal laws as well as regulations that assist both the asthmatic and non-asthmatic children by focusing on environmental and medical aspects. Advocacy also ensures the children have access to valuable, evidence-based care and affordable asthma treatment (Knibbs et al., 2018).

Principles of Health Promotion and Primary Health Care

The Principles of Equity, Self-determination, Rights, and Access in Childhood Asthma

Equity refers to the reduction of health differences by providing equal chances for all individuals to benefit fully. Thus, every Australian, encompassing the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal families should get culturally appropriate and safe valuable asthma care.

High quality, relevant asthma support, and services should be readily available, affordable and accessible to Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal families.

According to Davy et al. (2016), community acceptance is vital to seeking and engagement with asthma care services. Thus, acceptance of care services relies on the carers comprehending the social, historical and cultural aspects of the societies they serve. Nevertheless, simple understanding is not enough. Instead, a critical and thoughtful interaction practice that guarantees cultural sensitivity, as indicated by the service receivers is essential (Harfield et al., 2015). Therefore, indigenous medical care services can offer the best chance to guarantee access since they address different cultural and social factors of health experienced by Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal families. For instance, the indigenous asthma health care services are located near or within the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal communities and they are probably aware of the norms and values along with the healthcare needs. Thus, such health care services are more willing to collaborate with the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal families by responding to their asthma management needs. Most importantly, indigenous asthma health care services owned and managed by people from the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal communities are most likely to promote culturally safe systems of asthma care (Wilson et al., 2015).

Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal health care workers can also provide self-management awareness information to the parents or guardians of asthmatic children.

Programs that incorporate culture can be more suitable for the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal families than the conventional programmes (Bailey et al., 2009). For instance, according to Powell (2016), a three-session education programme carried out by Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal health care workers in this communities decreased the number of days missed by school going children due to asthma, and improved the staffs’ knowledge on asthma, the information contained in the children’s asthma action plan and where such documents were stored (Powell, 2016). Nevertheless, the programme did not lower the rate asthma outbreaks in Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal communities compared to children whose families failed to participate in the programme (Powell, 2016).   

Public Policy and Advocacy for Childhood Asthma Care

Powerlessness is often a factor of poor health conditions that can be eliminated by the control and self-determination of one’s fate. Thus, self-determination and empowerment are important concepts that should be considered when implementing programmes aimed at enhancing the management of asthma in Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal families. Thus, the needs of these families should be viewed holistically. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, this piece of writing has described the application of health policies associated with childhood asthma such as the school asthma policy, asthma policy, and asthma friendly education and care services, the principles of health promotion, advocacy and primary health care in childhood asthma and finally, concluded with the principles of equity, self-determination, rights and access in childhood asthma relevant to Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal families.

References

Asthma Guidelines: A resource for managing asthma in Victorian schools. 2017. Melbourne: The Asthma Foundation of Victoria.

Asthmaaustralia.org.au. 2018. Policy Document. [online] Available at: https://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/ArticleDocuments/1078/AAAFSCPPD2016%20Policy%20Document.pdf.aspx [Accessed 8 Oct. 2018].

Bailey, E., Cates, C., Kruske, S., Morris, P., Brown, N. and Chang, A., 2009. Culture-specific programs for children and adults from minority groups who have asthma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Betterhealth.vic.gov.au. 2018. Asthma in children. [online] Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/asthma-in-children [Accessed 8 Oct. 2018].

Davy, C., Harfield, S., McArthur, A., Munn, Z. and Brown, A., 2016. Access to primary health care services for Indigenous peoples: A framework synthesis. International journal for equity in health, 15(1), p.163.

Education.vic.gov.au. 2018. Asthma. [online] Available at: https://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/principals/spag/health/Pages/conditionasthma.aspx [Accessed 8 Oct. 2018].

Harfield, S., Davy, C., Kite, E., McArthur, A., Munn, Z., Brown, N. and Brown, A., 2015. Characteristics of Indigenous primary health care models of service delivery: a scoping review protocol. JBI database of systematic reviews and implementation reports, 13(11), pp.43-51.

Knibbs, L.D., Woldeyohannes, S., Marks, G.B. and Cowie, C.T., 2018. Damp housing, gas stoves, and the burden of childhood asthma in Australia. The Medical Journal of Australia, 208(7), pp.299-302.

Marks, G., Zinoviev, A., Poulos, L., Ampon, R. and Waters, A.M., 2009. Asthma in Australian children: findings from growing up in Australia, the longitudinal study of Australian children. Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Powell, C.V., 2016. Acute severe asthma. Journal of paediatrics and child health, 52(2), pp.187-191.

Wilson, A.M., Magarey, A.M., Jones, M., O’Donnell, K. and Kelly, J., 2015. Attitudes and characteristics of health professionals working in Aboriginal health. Rural & Remote Health, 15(1).

World Health Organization., 2018. Health promotion. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/topics/health_promotion/en/ [Accessed 8 Oct. 2018].