School office staff and medication

(39 Posts)
Effective Sat 07-Sep-13 13:48:08

I am here a lot, but namechanged as my other posts may make this child identifiable - have changed some details to try and avoid that.

I work in a school office. The school's policy is that we will administer prescription medications in line with the prescription and with a form signed by the parent. Generally speaking I am fine with this - it is usually Ibroprofen, allergy meds or antibiotics to be taken either as and when needed to a max of x doses a day, or at a certain time each day for a defined period. The instructions are recorded, the children usually remember to come and get them at the allotted time (junior school) and if they don't I go and find them. Once they've taken them I sign the book, so everyone who needs to know knows they've had them.

If (hasn't happened yet) I forget one, as a one off, it wouldn't be the end of the world in these circs.

However, we have a seriously ill girl at school from this term and she has to take a huge amount of vital meds. GOSH sent someone to explain it all to us. I need to make sure she has them 3 times a day, the correct distance from her meals and it really does matter if it's wrong.

I am feeling the weight of this responsibility somewhat and whilst I obviously will do my utmost to get it right, does anyone know what my position would be if I got it wrong? e.g a dose was missed, or insufficient/too much time between doses.

Rooners Sat 07-Sep-13 13:52:56

I would be terrified too fwiw.

Is there no way that they could send someone to take care of her in this way? It sounds like it is so energy/time intensive that it will detract from your ability to do a proper job in other areas. I'd have thought a proper 1 to 1 would be better but then I am not au fait with this area of working practice.

Rooners Sat 07-Sep-13 13:54:49

Also I'd be terrified if it were my child iyswim.

You sound great but our school managed not to give ds2 his single lunchtime dose of antibiotics two days running - despite signed forms and paperwork and a fridge and everything. No one bothered, and he was 5yo at the time.

I gave up after day 2 and kept him at home.

Cerisier Sat 07-Sep-13 14:00:40

Wow that is a huge responsibility. My school has a school nurse whose job is to do this sort of thing, but she doesn't do other tasks and she is highly qualified.

Cerisier Sat 07-Sep-13 14:08:13

I think you need to talk to the Head and s/he should consult the LEA on the correct procedure. Perhaps the parents should sign a form absolving you and the school from responsibility should a dose be messed up, despite your best efforts.

You must be careful not to leave the school or yourself at risk of litigation, plus the little girl needs a high quality of care. A proper system needs to be sorted out.

Effective Sat 07-Sep-13 14:09:50

Exactly, that's what worries me. My job basically means I spend whole days being pulled from pillar to post by people who need something and need it now. It is very easy to see a situation where the defined time slot was missed, if not forgotten all together.

But, apparently, this was never an issue in the infants and the secretary there had no concerns about it at all because she's so efficient....

I don't know what I can do about it though

As my dad pointed out, in a hospital you need to be "qualified" to hand out meds - although I'm prepared to be told he's wrong.

Effective Sat 07-Sep-13 14:11:15

Oh there have been long discussions about what the procedure should be - it should be as it is. The GOSH lady was very happy with our system (the same as it was in the infants)

nickelbabe Sat 07-Sep-13 14:14:23

you do need support from the LEA on this, definitely.

in the meantime, can you work out exactly when she she needs her meds and get your computer (email - outlook can do it) to give you a reminder with enough time to get the girl to the office for them? (or take them to her)
then everything else can be dropped when the reminder goes off.

Effective Sat 07-Sep-13 14:15:37

Yes, good idea nickel, but I'm not always sat at my computer.

The LEA have been involved. They are happy all is in order.

BoundandRebound Sat 07-Sep-13 14:16:35

Are you medically trained, have you agreed to take on responsibility

Speak to head and say you cannot in all conscience take responsibility for such an importance medication requirement and they will have to arrange an alternative
Or if you are willing set your phone to alarm a reminder

Junior school is different from infants

NatashaBee Sat 07-Sep-13 14:19:25

I think at the very least you need a backup staff member to take over the responsibility if you are delayed for any reason. Is there a TA in the class who could be responsible for taking the child to get her meds/ locating you if you don't show up at the correct time?

Effective Sat 07-Sep-13 14:21:50

Sorry, I know I'm sounding really negative, but I have tried to sort this out already so have tried most of these suggestions.

Of course I'm not medically trained, what school secretary is?

I haven't agreed to anything. I have been told that my role requires me to take on this responsibility. If I am unable/unwilling to do so, I am unable to fulfil my role (and the poor child does need her meds, someone has to do it)

I have loads of reminders/notes set. I haven't missed any meds any other child needs and have no reason to believe I will miss this one, but I am running around all over school all day. I don't always have my phone with me and I'm not always looking a the PC screen.

Effective Sat 07-Sep-13 14:22:36

Yes, we have that in the morning Natasha, but TAs here don't work afternoons.

drinkyourmilk Sat 07-Sep-13 14:24:17

I would think there needs to be a backup system in place.
Can the child herself wear a timer watch which goes off 5 mins before she needs her meds? Then she can come to you.

Effective Sat 07-Sep-13 14:27:02

Yes, I could suggest that drink, but TBH I'm not sure how reliable she'd be. So far she has sworn blind twice that "the lady in the office" had given her the afternoon tablets, only we were never able to identify this lady. Also to complicate matters, she (all the children) goes into lunch at a different time each week because we have rotating sittings, so it's not even the same times everyday.

OldRoan Sat 07-Sep-13 14:27:30

YY to having a timer in the classroom.

It's may be a terrible idea, but...would the other children in the class be allowed to remind the teacher to send the child? I've found that if I need to remember it, telling the class "you must remind me about X at Y time" means there is at least one person who remembers. Obviously it depend how sensitive the information about her medication is. Fwiw, I would be incredibly uncomfortable in your position as well. I don't think anyone in the LEA realises how many different jobs the non-teaching staff spend their days doing.

BoundandRebound Sat 07-Sep-13 14:28:25

Make it the teachers or LSA responsibility to bring the child to you at set times

But if you are really unwilling you just have to say you won't be responsible for it

And medical training in the form of first aid training would be sufficient

Effective Sat 07-Sep-13 14:28:57

So what happens in other schools?

This child is very poorly, but her condition is not (sadly) that rare?

daftdame Sat 07-Sep-13 14:38:20

What happens when you are ill / on holiday? or there is a fire alarm? I too think there should be a teacher / TA who takes responsibility for reminding too.

Effective Sat 07-Sep-13 14:45:10

That's what the books for daft - so my cover can pick it up and know the instructions. There are a handful of other staff who know what's needed if necessary, but it's my job to make sure it happens when I'm there.

The book and the meds are to be taken with us if there's a fire alarm.

Cerisier Sat 07-Sep-13 14:46:43

Are you a member of a union OP? If so can you ask them for some advice?

dingledongle Sat 07-Sep-13 15:00:35

Is it clearly documented and signed for? There should be a 'care plan' in place that has been drawn up by a 'qualified person'.

The question is what happens if it goes wrong? It does not matter how it was managed in the past, that is being used to bully you in to doing it now. If someone does not stand up to what they think is wrong then nothing changes. There should be a policy in place to deal with this.

dingledongle Sat 07-Sep-13 15:02:29

Document everything and keep it up to date.

You can voice your concerns to your manager/head teacher. If you are not happy with it contact OFSTED and see if they can offer at advice?

Effective Sat 07-Sep-13 15:04:49

Yes, it is all documented and signed for and GOSH set up the careplan.

My question is indeed what happens if it goes wrong? But, if it's me or someone else, someone has to give the child her tablets. What would that person's personal position be if they forgot/got it wrong, was my question?

A policy for dealing with it if it goes wrong? There is a policy for dealing with the administration of the drugs.

dingledongle Sat 07-Sep-13 15:10:31

If you have signed for and follow the policy then no one can fault you. This is why the care plan is put in place.

It is a responsibility giving someone such meds. But if the care plan is drawn up and reviewed regularly and you follow the protocols then that is following the policy.

Yes, the policy I was referring to is for the admin if drugs.

I understand your concerns.

Effective Sat 07-Sep-13 15:12:42

But that's what worries me dingle, the one occasion I don't follow the policy to the letter, perhaps because three people were asking for something at the same time and I missed the time slot.

Cerisier Sat 07-Sep-13 15:27:38

You need to discuss with the Head and they must make it clear to everyone that the meds are your number one priority and everything else must wait.

Uverguv Sat 07-Sep-13 17:59:19

I work in a school office where we have a similar system of administering medication to the one you describe. Parents fill a card with instructions for when the medicine is to be taken, how much etc. We fill in the card and initial each time the medicine is given. However, our medicine policy very clearly states that staff are not obliged to give medicine to children and do so on a voluntary basis, there is no compulsion to do so. It also states that we will make every effort to give medicines but that if parents want to be certain that the children are given their medicine at the correct time, they should come into school to administer it themselves. I appreciate that this may be difficult for some parents, but I think that it's really unfair to put the onus onto you - there are so many things going on at any one time in a school, that it would be easy to forget a dose. Like other posters, if you are unhappy with this situation, I think you would do well to seek advice from your local authority, or your union.

daftdame Sat 07-Sep-13 18:04:32

Uverguv Very difficult. These children do have a right to an education, the school does have a Duty of Care. Expecting a parent to take up the shortfall is discriminatory. It is up to the school / LA to ensure the staff are adequately qualified to carry out a Care Plan.

Uverguv Sat 07-Sep-13 20:29:10

Point taken, daft, and I guess that we usually deal with children who are taking something like a short course of antibiotics rather than those who are on a permanent drug regime. Nonetheless I do feel that it's not right that the OP should feel that she carries the whole burden of responsibility for this child's medication while they are in school and that she has not been adequately informed about what her position would be if things went wrong. Her employer has a duty of care to her as well.

daftdame Sat 07-Sep-13 20:36:53

Absolutely Uverguv. That's why I said schools and LAs have a responsibility for ensuring adequately qualified staff.

clam Sat 07-Sep-13 20:54:28

I'm afraid the cynic in me predicts that not one of these official people who are smiley and confident that everything's "all in order" will be seen for dust if anything does go wrong. And you will cop for the blame, know that.

Not to mention a lifetime of (unjustified but not unreasonable) guilt for "letting her down." (Not blaming you AT ALL, but predicting that's how you might feel).

I would be taking advice at the highest level on this one.

OP I can understand your reservations about all of this, for reasons such as those given by clam.

What is the medication?

I have a dd who may well in a few years be in a similar situation to the child in the OP.

As it is she already takes meds in school (with all food ) and has additional snacks. In her case because it is mealtimes and snack times she has her own bags of meds kept in her classroom and the TA or lunchtime assistant help her.

In your situation I think I would ask for a review of your role given the impact it IS going to have, and look at how you can minimise that impact.

Maybe you need to write out a rota for the week for times (allowing for adjusted mealtimes) and put them into a phone or similar device provided by the school so it will go off even if you are sick! (voice of experience there!)). The management team will need to understand that if you take on this additional duty you may not be able to work as before.

On a positive note dd's school were very apprehensive about how they were going to manage, not negative, but more a fear of the unknown. Tbh they have been fab they have been occasional hitches but it happens we talk and learn from that.

It think you will cope OP but the management need to be onside about how big a chunk this may bite into your time.

clam Sat 07-Sep-13 21:27:55

I don't think that the impact on the OP's time is the issue here. She has already said that issuing common or garden meds is part of her role and that she is willing to do that. This one, however, is different, because of the implications of what happens if they are missed. She will be held responsible, no matter what the LEA or GOSH say at the moment.
I don't think that's fair on her.

daftdame Sat 07-Sep-13 22:19:21

The difficulty is that is issues such as this are not resolved in schools, inclusion becomes very difficult.

I really feel for OP but the SMT and LA should really be more supportive.

ChinaCupsandSaucers Sat 07-Sep-13 22:36:53

I haven't agreed to anything. I have been told that my role requires me to take on this responsibility. If I am unable/unwilling to do so, I am unable to fulfil my role (and the poor child does need her meds, someone has to do it)

From a purely employment/HR perspective, you can ask for your role to be reviewed. Your grading will be based on the level of responsibility you have. in this case, it is not the task itself, but the implications of successfully completing the task which have changed, therefore your grading will change.

Compare it to a more administrative function to highlight the issue from an HR perspective.. You may currently have responsibility for returning LEA data returns accurately and on time.
Imagine if overnight, the consequence of getting that wrong was that the school instantly went into special measures. Your level of responsibility would have increased and they would either reallocate the task or regrade your role to reflect the level of responsibility. They would also ensure you were competent and not rely on you if you expressed doubt in your own capability to successfully achieve the task.
Your situation is the same - but there's a DCs life at stake.

It sounds callous, but to cover yourself, please ensure that you have expressed your concerns, in writing, to your immediate line manager and the Head.

Tabby1963 Sat 07-Sep-13 22:49:24

I work in a primary school. I am a Support for Learning Assistant and hold a first aid certificate valid for three years. Several other SLAs also hold certificates. No member of staff who does not have first aid training is permitted to administer any medication or deal with injuries.

All medication has to be prescribed by a doctor, not purchased over the counter. Medication is given as per the instructions on the bottle, not as per the instructions of the parent.

Additionally, our HT has stated that if we are not happy to administer certain medications i.e. invasive diabetes tests and insulin injections, we do not have to. If no member of staff was comfortable carrying out a particular medical procedure, the parent would be expected to come to school and do it.

Further, all staff who do agree to carry out any invasive medical treatment are required to be properly trained by a medical professional before hand.

Finally, two qualified members of staff have to be present when invasive medical treatment is carried out, both signing the sheet with date, time, dosage, medicine details etc.

Effective I am interested in you school's policy in relation to this pupil with complex medical needs. Have you been asked whether you are comfortable with doing this task? If you are happy to do it, have you yet had the opportunity to be properly trained by a medical professional (not the parent) in the correct procedure? Additionally, I am concerned that you are being left alone to deal with administering this pupil's medication. You should have a second member of staff with you at all times, also properly trained. Finally, if you are not happy about administering this medication, you must speak up and inform your HT. It is a massive responsibility and you may be liable (as well as the school) should something go wrong. Please protect yourself and the pupil.

Your local council's Education Department and your school should have a written policy about medication administration. You should have access to it at school (all our policies are kept in the staff room on a shelf and the medical one in our medical room).

I hope you are able to sort this out next week. Good luck.

daftdame Sat 07-Sep-13 22:54:44

Parents should not have to come in. If the child has a Medical Statement the school has a Duty of Care.

The OP still has employment rights though, sufficient training and insurances etc. She needs to be confident this is in place.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now