A health team working in SchoolKit Clinics may be based at an established health service or may involve a group of interested specialists and practitioners working in collaboration. SchoolKit Clinics almost always involve a paediatrician, who will most likely take a lead role in the clinics.
A health team’s preparations for a SchoolKit Clinic begin first and foremost by establishing a relationship with a school. Once the need for a clinic, or clinics, has been identified and the willingness and capability of a team of health, educational and other professionals has been established, clinics can be planned.
Referral and Intake Processes
A school may offer the health team a list of children or young people they feel would benefit from a SchoolKit Clinic. These are prioritised depending on the urgency of issues, and availability of family, health and education staff and others who should be involved (such as therapists, case managers or disability service professionals).
Details about each child and family’s background and situation are provided by the school to the health team, and medical information or developmental assessments are sought for children who are new to them. The notes of known patients are reviewed.
Where children and families are new to the health team, ideally a questionnaire is completed so that key issues can be explored in advance and other clinicians invited as necessary (for example, a social worker). It may also be appropriate for someone in the health team to complete an ‘intake’ call with the family or carers to determine whether a SchoolKit Clinic would be of value for them, to help establish issues, and decide who should be involved.
In this way, the key issues to be addressed at the clinic, can often be anticipated in advance, with strategies considered or appropriate people invited to the clinic to help find solutions.
Focus on the Family’s Needs
Effective communication and respecting the needs of everyone involved in a SchoolKit Clinic, most particularly the child or young person and their family, is vital.
Often needs and issues can be anticipated in advance, but the focus of the clinic remains on the wellbeing of the child. Although the school may have perceived needs, and the medical team may view certain issues as important to address, these are not necessarily those of most concern to the family or carer, or those that have the greatest impact on their lives.
In preparing for a SchoolKit Clinic, it is imperative that the health team remember that they are there to provide a service and work towards meeting the needs of the family, not to their own agenda.
At the same time, it is also important that they go into a clinic with the intention of ensuring that the concerns of school staff, and any vital medical issues, are adequately addressed.
Sensitivity and respect are key throughout.