Resources are available to support students’ personal and medical care at school and some students’ travel, and to fund building modifications and specialist equipment.
On this page:
- Personal care
- Travel support
- Building modifications and equipment
- Health care needs planning
- The Medical Intervention Support and Schoolcare programs
- If your child has to be away from school
Your child’s school can assist them with their personal care, toileting or continence care, eating and drinking, transferring and positioning. The school will need a Personal Care Medical Advice Form from a relevant medical specialist (such as a physiotherapist) with recommendations about your child’s requirements, including:
- The situations in which your child will need assistance or supervision (for example to stay upright in a chair)
- The type and level of assistance or supervision required
- Recommended equipment that might be needed (such as a hoist for transferring), and
- Recommended training for staff involved.
These recommendations should be incorporated into your child’s Student Health Support Plan, for discussion by your child’s Student Support Group, and identification of any additional resources required.
“I’d say to the school, ‘Lets talk about the extra challenges that may occur, that we can work together to change, or let’s share anything that comes about that’s really fantastic. And healthwise – because he was a very unwell little boy for a long time, it’s important that we have a discussion to ensure all his health needs are consistently met.
It was also about making them alert to the signs of when Casey was unwell. I never just provided that information verbally. I always provided a written document, laminated, and suggested that it be available for all staff to be aware of, and to use as indicators that he was unwell.
I still provide this necessary information in that way, to this day. Every step of Casey’s needs is written down. I did it for the special school, and I do it now for his day setting and his community inclusion program.” – Rhonda
Students who are attending a specialist school for which they are zoned are usually able to make use of free supported travel to and from school – usually a school bus. Other students with who live in rural or regional areas might be eligible for Conveyance Allowance, to assist with their travel costs to and from school. Schools must submit conveyance claims for eligible students to DET each semester.
- For information, visit the DET website and search on ‘student transport’ or ‘conveyance allowance’. Find information about Mobility Allowance by searching on the Department of Human Services website.
Building modifications and equipment
Your child’s school can apply for funding from the DET Regional Facilities Branch, to support building modifications such as ramps and toilet facilities. These can take some time, so schools should apply for such funding as soon as the need is identified – for example, by early in the year before your child is to start at the school.
If your child requires a communication aid, modified classroom furniture or other specialist equipment, discuss this with their Student Support Group. The SSG can make recommendations for purchasing such equipment, for example using Program for Students with Disabilities funding – the final decisions on purchases are made by the principal.
Grants are available to help schools purchase major items of specialised equipment for students with a mild visual impairment who are not eligible for the Program for Students with Disabilities, but for whom this equipment is essential for them to access the curriculum.
- For more information contact your regional DET office.
Subsidies are also available for the purchase of electronic communication devices and associated training through the Victorian Aids and Equipment Program of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.
- For information visit the Department of Health and Human Services website and search on ‘aids and equipment’.
Health care needs planning
Whether your child has ongoing or temporary medical care needs, these can generally be managed at school. Support and training are available to ensure that staff have the required skills; for students with high or complex care needs, additional support is available from the SchoolCare and Medical Intervention Support Programs (see below).
If your child has an identified need, the principal should collect information from you (including advice from your child’s doctor) about your child’s:
- Routine health care support needs, such as supervision for medication
- Personal care support needs, such as assistance with personal hygiene, continence care, eating and drinking, transfers and positioning, and the use of any health-related equipment
- Emergency care needs, such as predictable first aid for management of an allergic reaction including anaphylaxis, or for seizure, asthma or diabetes.
This information, along with your child’s up-to-date medication, should be safely stored at school. The school should discuss your child’s care needs with you in your child’s Student Support Group, and develop a Student Health Support Plan – with consultation with your child’s doctor if needed – that identifies:
- staff training needs
- responsibility for tasks
- storage of medication and care supplies
- a private area for personal care
- the role of local medical services in supporting care
- involvement of the Schoolcare or other programs.
More planning might be needed to support your child to take part in excursions or camps. It is DET policy that children with care needs should be supported to participate in such activities whenever possible.
- For more information visit the DET website and search on ‘health care needs’.
The Medical Intervention Support and Schoolcare programs
The Medical Intervention Support Program provides funding for schools, in addition to the PSD, for the salary costs associated with employing education support staff with the training required to assist students with regular complex medical support needs, such as those who require mechanical ventilation, oxygen, tracheostomy care, suctioning, tube feeding and ostomy management. This training can be provided by local healthcare providers, disability support organisations or the Schoolcare program.
The Schoolcare Program is a joint project of DET and the Royal Children’s Hospital that further supports students with high complex medical care needs. A Homecare Nurse coordinates the care of students on this program. The Homecare Nurse will assess the student’s needs, and consult with the student, their parents or carers and their doctors to develop a care manual outlining the student’s condition and care needs. The Homecare Nurse then trains nominated staff to provide this care and assess their competency; they re-assess both the care manual and staff competency every six months.
- Talk to the principal if you think your child might benefit from the Medical Intervention Support or Schoolcare programs.
If your child has to be away from school
Sometimes your child’s medical needs are such that they cannot attend school, perhaps because they are in hospital or at home temporarily (for example, if recovering from surgery). Resources are available to ensure your child can keep up with their schoolwork (as they are able), maintain their connection with school, and transition between hospital, home and school. If your child is in hospital or recuperating at home, their school is responsible for their curriculum. Schools are encouraged to maintain a connection between your child and their teacher and classmates, for example using communications such as Skype or email.
School staff should also liaise with hospital-based staff, to help your child keep up with their learning in meaningful but realistic ways. Schools can draw on the visiting teacher services or Student Support Services Officers, to help support your child and ease their transition between hospital, home and school.
- If your child has to be at home for a longer period because of the severity of their disability or fragile health, more resources are also available to support their learning through the Home Based Educational Support Program. See also our page on home-based education options.