Is standardized care working for children with type 1 diabetes in British Columbia?
The standardized health care plan for children in British Columbia, Canada is failing those with type 1 diabetes.
This is the view of two families who have filed human rights complaints against the B.C. government and believe standardized care is putting their children at risk.
But is standardized care at fault? We look at what it offers young children with type 1 diabetes and why it is being met with resistance by some families.
What does standardized care entail?
Standardized care was introduced in 2014 by the Ministry of Health, a provincial government department responsible for the health system in B.C.
For children with diabetes, these plans include blood testing at various times of the day, including recess, before lunch, two hours after lunch, before exercise and whenever a student exhibits signs of hypoglycemia.
This provincewide plan, the first of its kind in Canada, does seem to provide a regimented routine of diabetes management. However, there are two issues that have understandably drawn the ire of parents.
Firstly, the care plan fails to consider personalized aspects of diabetes that may require individual treatment. Secondly, parents are told if they do not consent to standardized care, their children will receive no care at all. This is according to a news release from the Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS).
It is CLAS who are representing the families filing the complaints, and they fully support the families’ allegations that standardized care is being imposed on their type 1 diabetic children.
“Human rights law requires that children with disabilities receive individual accommodation in school. Like many disabilities, type 1 diabetes affects different children in different ways. A ‘one size fits all’ approach to accommodation does not comply with human rights law,” said Laura Johnston of CLAS.
Why is the B.C. government facing complaints?
Guilly Milburn fought for months to obtain personalized care for her daughter Scarlette, aged seven, at her school in New Westminster. Scarlette can now test whenever she wants.
Milburn was first presented with the standardized care plan within Scarlette’s first few days of Grade One, and told the school nurse she would not sign as it didn’t tailor to the care her daughter required.
Milburn was reportedly told that not signing would lead to her daughter not having anybody assigned to take care of her and help manage her type 1 diabetes, so Milburn signed.
Within two days, Scarlette suffered a hypo as she was collected by her mother from school. This resulted in Milburn personally attending her daughter’s school to help administer her care after being denied additional care from the school outside of the standardized care plan.
It was in January 2015 that Milburn managed to secure personalized care for Scarlette.
The other family who have filed a human rights complaint is Ailsa and Theo Pella, who also claim to have been denied personalized care for their eight-year-old son after asking for changes to their school’s care plan.
In Milburn’s case, she is proceeding with the compliant so other families in her position do not have to suffer the hardship she experienced in fighting for these changes to be made.
What is the future of standardized care in B.C.?
The Ministry of Health face a dilemma as parents can’t face their children suffering as a result of rigid, standardized care compared to personalized care, especially if this is deemed as a violation against human rights.
The Ministry previously said in a statement: “[parents] cannot direct school staff on a day-to-day or hour-to-hour basis to deliver care differently from what is in the care plan, as the clinical evidence shows that this increases the risk for children in a school setting where the child may not be monitored as closely as they are at home.”
The complaints from the families name the ministries of health, education and children and family development. The pressure to allow changes to standardized care that accommodate the different needs of children is growing.
Health Minister Terry Lake has stressed parents “cannot direct school staff on a day-to-day or hour-to-hour basis”, when talking about the possibility of individual arrangements.
However, while the Ministry’s intentions were admirable in attempt to lessen the concern of parents sending their diabetic children to school – by introducing a solid care plan – schools will find it hard to deny parents changes following the eventual success of Milburn in achieving personalized care.
Have you or your child been affected by standardized care at school? Do you think standardized care offers a well-rounded service or do changes need to be made? Share your thoughts with us!
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