Guidelines for Supporting the Management of Diabetes
Diabetes is a condition where the person’s normal hormonal mechanisms do not control their blood sugar levels. This is because the pancreas does not make any or enough insulin, or because the insulin does not work properly or both. There are two main types of diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes develops when the pancreas is unable to make insulin. The majority of children and young people have Type 1 diabetes. Children with type 1 diabetes will need to replace their missing insulin either through multiple injections or an insulin pump therapy.
Type 2 Diabetes is most common in adults but the number of children with Type 2 diabetes is increasing, largely due to lifestyle issues and an increase in childhood obesity. It develops when the pancreas can still produce insulin but there is not enough or it does not work properly.
Children with Type 1 diabetes manage their condition by the following:
- Regular monitoring of their blood glucose levels
- Insulin injections or use of insulin pump
- Eating a healthy diet
The aim of treatment is to keep the blood glucose levels within normal limits. Blood glucose levels need to be monitored several times a day and a pupil may need to do this at least once while at school/setting.
Children who have Type 1 diabetes may be prescribed a fixed dose of insulin; other children may need to adjust their insulin dose according to their blood glucose readings, food intake and activity. Children may use a pen-like device to inject insulin several times a day; others may receive continuous insulin through a pump.
The insulin pen should be kept a room temperature but any spare insulin should be kept in the fridge. Once opened it should be dated and discarded after 1 month. Parents should ensure enough insulin is available at all times including on trips.
Older pupils will probably be able to independently administer their insulin; however, younger pupils may need supervision or adult assistance. The pupil’s individual health care plan should provide details regarding their insulin requirements.
Insulin pumps are usually worn all the time but can be disconnected for periods during PE or swimming etc. The pumps can be discretely worn attached to a belt or in a pouch. They continually deliver insulin and many pumps can calculate how much insulin needs to be delivered when programmed with the pupil’s blood glucose and food intake. Some pupils may be able to manage their pump independently, while others may require supervision or assistance. The child’s individual health care plan should provide details regarding their insulin therapy requirements.