Are your patients asthma ready for school?
GPs are an important support for parents and carers of children with asthma in helping ensure they are ‘asthma ready’ for the school.
Every year there is a well-documented spike in asthma flare-ups when children return to school after the Christmas break. This results in a significant increase in Emergency Department visits, hospitalisations and days off school. Not only is this unsettling for children as they start a new year at school, but often it impacts on time off work for the parents/carers also.
Why do asthma flare-ups happen at this time?
This pattern is consistent with international studies after the long summer school holiday break in other countries too. Our asthma experts tell us that major factors include:
- When children’s asthma is well controlled in summer, sometimes preventer medicines are not taken daily as prescribed.
- Children mix with others and there is an inevitable spreading of viruses.
What do the parents/carers of children with asthma say?
From 350 respondents to Asthma Australia’s parent/carer online survey in November 2016:
- 74% said their child had two or more asthma flare-ups per year.
- 58% had talked to their child’s teacher at the start of each school year.
- 21% had not provided the school with a spare puffer and spacer.
- 22% had not provided the school with an Asthma Plan.
- 87% were confident their child’s teacher is able to deal with an asthma flare-up.
The 2018 Back to School campaign
Asthma Australia and TerryWhite Chemmart have partnered to emphasise the need for parents and carers to put their child’s asthma plan top of the back to school list.
The campaign messages are to encourage parents and carers of children with asthma to:
- Review and update their child’s asthma plan with their GP.
- Visit TerryWhite Chemmart to purchase their necessary reliever medication, spacer or spacer and mask.
- Talk to a TerryWhite Chemmart Pharmacist about their child’s asthma management in preparation for school.
- Provide the school with a copy of their child’s asthma plan and provide the school with a reliever and spacer/spacer with mask, to be kept at school in case of an asthma flare.
Click here for more information on our 2018 Back to School campaign.
What role do GPs play?
A key component of the 2018 back to school campaign is the recommendation from TerryWhite Chemmart Pharmacists for parents and carers to visit their child’s GP for the development of an asthma plan for children in readiness for school.
GPs play a vital role in ensuring parents and cares of children with asthma are ready for the return to school:
- Remind parents of the importance of following their child’s asthma plan over the school holidays. Just because school stops, that doesn’t mean a child’s asthma medication does too. Parents and carers should remain vigilant with their child's prescribed preventer medication routine over the school holidays, and follow their asthma action plan for a safe return to school with good asthma control.
- Refer your patients via our website. If parents have ongoing concerns or questions about their child’s asthma, call the 1800 ASTHMA Helpline (1800 278 462) our free telephone information and education service, to speak with a trained asthma helpline staff member.
- As you know, preventer medication can take a few weeks to reach its full effect. Identify your patient’s key triggers and flare-up times and review the Australian Management Handbook guidelines for asthma management.
Asthma resources and information
Australian Management Handbook v1.3 http://www.asthmahandbook.org.au/
NAC Australian Management Handbook - Providing asthma management education for parents & children http://www.asthmahandbook.org.au/management/children/education
Preparing written asthma action plans for children http://www.asthmahandbook.org.au/management/action-plans/waap-children
Asthma care plan for education and care services https://www.nationalasthma.org.au/living-with-asthma/asthma-action-plans/asthma-action-plan-examples
National Asthma Council – Asthma action plans https://www.nationalasthma.org.au/living-with-asthma/asthma-action-plans/asthma-action-plan-examples