- / Procedures
- / Children living away from home
- / Looked After Children and Leaving Care
- / Health of LAC
Health of LAC
Children who are looked after by the local authority will have very individual health needs, with this rooted in their family history to date and their life experiences. When accommodating a child there are therefore a number of different areas where the child and family's knowledge need to be passed over and recorded to ensure consistency in the care that is being provided.
Research suggests that children in care will share many of the same health risks as their peers, but that this is often to a greater degree. Children who are coming into care can often be at a worse level of health than their peers in part due to their experiences up until the point of coming into care.
Needs in relation to mental health have also been shown to be disproportionately higher for children in care.
Finally, evidence suggests that when children then come to leave care many aspects of their health worsens in the year after leaving care.
It is therefore very important to get the right information and support for the child at the right time.
What's needed when placing a child for the first time?
Consent to medical treatment
It is important to ensure that consent to medical treatment is discussed with the parents, and as far as reasonably possible obtained and as near the start of the process as possible.
For children and young people who are accommodated (e.g. s20) it is essential that written, signed consent is obtained from the parents at the outset. In these cases parents retain parental responsibility and therefore the local authority do not have the ability to authorise any medical treatment. This information is found on the Placement Information Record and when signed the form should be copied and input onto the child's electronic file.
It is good practice to gain similar consent when children are subject to Interim Care Orders/Care Orders, however it is not essential as the local authority will share Parental Responsibility with the parents in these situations and therefore medical treatment can be sought.
For younger children you can ask if the parents will provide you with their red book (Personal Child Health Record (PCHR)) which sets out the involvement of the Health Visitor over the child's life so far. Parents of older children may still have the PCHR and have further information available.
Details of GP, dentist, optician and other involved health professionals
Wherever possible the child should receive continuity of care from the health professionals they were seeing prior to being placed in care. If this is not possible then it is important that the details of who is currently involved are passed to any new providers to ensure information can be transferred between the providers.
Allergies, health conditions, medication
Essentially any information that may impact on the day to day care of the child should be obtained.
Where possible any current medication should be requested from the parent and passed to the carer, ensuring that it is clearly labelled as to who should have the medicine, how much they should have and when. If medication is to be provided by the carer then consent should be obtained from the parents.
What's needed in the first few weeks of the child being in care
At this stage, the most important matter to be addressed is the health assessment which will inform the health plan. The process around this is detailed on the next page. The health plan, once written, will then guide the support that is provided to the child, placement and carers.
It is also important early on in the child's care experience for Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires to be completed. This allows a baseline to be established in relation to the child's mental health, as well as identifying if any support is urgently required.
For children of secondary school age a substance misuse screen should be completed.
What's needed on an ongoing basis?
The child's health needs should be considered as part of the review of arrangements and an integral part of the care plan.
Substance misuse screening and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires should be reviewed annually as a minimum.
You may also like
Termination of pregnancy
Young women who are Looked After may be at risk in the same way as the general population to becoming pregnant. Whilst every effort is made to educate young people about safe sex, if a young person who is in care does become pregnant, they will need help and support in order to make the right decision for them. This page looks at the process if the young person makes the decision to terminate the pregnancy.Read more
Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ's)
The SDQ helps parents, carers, schools, young people and workers share their ideas about where the young person thrives and which areas they find a challenge. The tool can also be used to screen the young person's mental well-being.Read more
In relation to physical health, it is important to be clear what the needs are and how these will be met by all involved in the child's life.Read more
Substance Misuse Screening
Substance misuse amongst young people is an increasing issue that can have devastating consequences. Screening young people around their drug use is an early intervention strategy allowing appropriate support and information with a view to preventing young drug users becoming problematic drug users. This page addresses the screening of children in care.Read more
Medical Treatment (including emergency treatment)
Children in care have medical needs in the same way all children do. They will also have accidents and illnesses, and therefore it is important to know what to do if a child who is in care of the Local Authority needs medical treatment of any form.Read more
- Child protection
- Youth Offending
- Children with Disabilities