School health care
School health care helps school pupils and their families in all issues to do with school children’s health and well-being.
School health care invites children from every year group for a health check. In addition to health checks, school health care helps in all issues to do with school children's health and well-being.
Pupils and their parents or guardians can contact school health care if they are worried about any aspect of a pupil’s physical or mental health. This could be something related to growth and development for example, or issues related to family well-being or acute crises.
School health care will continue with courses of vaccinations started at a health centre in accordance with the national vaccination programme. Permission for vaccinations is requested from parents when children who are not yet able to decide for themselves are offered vaccinations.
School health care is not involved in treating illnesses. In cases of illness, your first point of contact is your own health centre. However, investigations into many issues can be started through school health care. Treatment of issues related to growth, development, mental symptoms, weight management and learning are often started like that. If a parent or guardian suspects that a child’s vision is weakening, the child can contact the school health care for an eye examination. The health care nurse will refer the pupil to an ophthalmologist or optician if necessary.
The teacher will contact the parent or guardian if a pupil becomes ill and the pupil will be sent home to recover there. Parents or guardians must make sure that the school always has up to date information about their telephone numbers.
Pupils can also contact the school health care reception if they start to feel ill. The health care nurse is usually available during breaks and, in addition, a longer period of availability for consultations may have been agreed. In most cases of infectious illnesses and symptoms that a pupil is familiar with from previous experience, such as migraine for example, the pupil or teacher can themselves assess whether their school day has to be interrupted because of the illness. If a pupil needs to take medicine regularly or occasionally during the school day, the pupil’s parents or guardian must ensure that the pupil has their medicine with them at school.
If a pupil falls ill or is seriously injured during the school day and the health care nurse is not able to provide the treatment required alone, the pupil will be taken straight to a health care centre or hospital. The pupil’s guardian or parents will be contacted immediately.
Pupils have an annual health check with the health care nurse. On grades 1, 5 and 8, the pupils undergo a so-called in-depth health check, which also includes examinations performed by a physician. The health care nurse checks that the pupil’s growth and well-being are in accordance with the pupil’s age and individual situation. The nurse interviews the pupils, measures them, weighs them and checks their posture. All pupils’ eyesight and hearing are checked at certain ages.
The health care nurse sends a written report of their observations home with the pupil and gives any necessary instructions regarding nutrition or exercise for example. If necessary the health care nurse will refer the pupil for further examination by the school doctor, a health centre or some other professional such as a physiotherapist or nutritionist.
Comprehensive school pupils have extensive health care checks three times during their school years. These checks are for pupils in years 1, 5 and 8. Extensive health care checks are carried out by a doctor and health care nurse together. Pupils’ guardians or parents are always invited to be present for extensive health care checks.
In extensive health care checks, the pupil’s health is examined as a whole, including the well-being of the entire family. A preliminary information form is completed in advance, and that asks the parent or guardian about the pupil’s health, but also has general questions about the family’s well-being and health. During the health check the parents or guardians can discuss any concerns they may have and the family’s need for assistance.
As part of an extensive health check, the doctor and health care nurse can give health advice to the whole family. If they assess that the family needs support from some other professional, for example a family counselling centre or a social worker, they will refer the family to the services required.
If a child and the child’s parents do not make an appointment for a health check or do not turn up for an agreed check, the school health care nurse will contact the parents by telephone. The nurse can then talk about the pupil’s and family’s situation and agree a time to meet that suits everybody. School health care can also make home visits sometimes. However, all health checks by the school health care are voluntary.
School health care is confidential. Parent or guardians do not have an automatic right to know what has been talked about with a pupil during an appointment. The health care nurse or doctor can hear about a child’s or young person’s very intimate matters which a parent or guardian does not always need to know about. Keeping an issue just between the health care nurse or school doctor and the young person might be a requirement for seeking and getting help.
According to the Act on the Status and Rights of Patients, minors have the right to forbid their information being given to their parent or guardian when they are able to decide about their treatment themselves. There is no precise age-limit; the situation will be assessed by the doctor or health care nurse. The decision will take into account the nature of the issue, the age and development level of the patient as well as ensuring the good of the child. Parents can see information about their children under the age of 10 from the MyKanta service.
The general rule is that the health care nurse and the doctor inform parents or guardians about their most important observations. The child and parent or guardian can also agree that the parent or guardian comes along to the appointment.