In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)

In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)
ACT Public Hospitals

Canberra Hospital

5124 0000


Calvary Hospital

6201 6111

Mental Health

Call Mental Health Triage on

1800 629 354

(free call except from mobiles or public phones) or

6205 1065

Poisons Hotline

For a poison emergency in Australia call

131126

Drug and Alcohol Help Line

The Drug and Alcohol Help Line is available 24-hours, 7 days a week on

5124 9977

Health Protection Service

For after hours urgent public health matters including environmental health, radiation safety, food poisoning and communicable disease management phone:

(02) 6205 1700

healthdirect

24 hour health advice

1800 022 222

ACT State Emergency Service

Emergency help
during flood or storms

132 500


Health matters

In this section: Learn about all things health, from what to do in an emergency, though to health checks, maintaining records, Medicare cards, immunisation, administering medication and consents.

Overview

For the child in your care, their Care and Case Plans will include matters concerning their health. Your case manager will provide you this information to enable you to meet the child’s health needs. This will include any current treatment being provided to the child.

As their carer, you are responsible for their day-to-day health as outlined in your Specific Parental Authority (SPA). This may include taking the child to the doctor and consenting to the taking of antibiotics, as well as dentist visits to have tooth cavities repaired. Your SPA can be used as proof to let health professionals know you have the authority to consent to treatments for the child.

It is a good idea to keep a copy of your SPA with you, or have a photo of it on your phone.

Caring for the health needs of the child in your care is important. Any major changes to their health should be discussed at Care Team meetings and annual review meetings, where strategies to address the issues will be agreed upon and implemented.

The following information provides you with guidance for specific health matters you will likely come across during your time as the child’s carer.

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Emergencies

If the child you are caring for is involved in a significant accident or becomes significantly injured or sick, you are to seek the appropriate medical assistance in the first instance. As soon as possible afterwards, you must notify your case manager.

If consent for treatment is required, you must contact your case manager. If the injuries are life threatening and urgent treatment is required, the doctor treating the child may not require consent as there is a clear duty of care. In these circumstances, it is important to notify your case manager about what is happening with the child as soon as possible.

If an emergency occurs outside of normal business hours, you are to contact your case manager’s after hours crisis service to notify them of the situation (see ‘Contacts’).

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Accidents and incidents

When caring for the child, all care should be taken to avoid them being involved in an accident or incident – but sometimes these things can happen. If they do, it is important for you to know what you should do as their carer.

When an accident occurs, you must deal with it at that moment. If the child is injured, give them first aid and seek medical help if needed. As soon as possible, notify your case manager or the relevant after hours service. They will get you to complete an accident and incident form. This will need to explain the details of what happened before the accident and what was needed for the child after the accident.

If an incident occurs, you must manage it at that moment. An incident is an event or situation that was unexpected, such as unexpectedly seeing a birth family member at the shopping centre and having an unsettling interaction. Respond to the incident in the best way possible at the time. Contact your case manager soon afterwards. They will get you to complete an incident form. They will also discuss with you if any further actions or decisions are required.

If the incident is critical or serious, urgent action must be taken. Contact your case manager (or relevant after hours service if outside business hours) immediately and tell them what has happened so an incident report can be recorded. Where there are concerns the child may have been mistreated in some way, either intentionally or unintentionally, a report may also need to be made under the ACT Reportable Conduct Scheme. Your case manager will let you know and manage this process (see ‘Reportable conduct’).

Important

When responding to an accident or any incident, the child’s physical safety is paramount. Your safety and that of others is also extremely important and no one should attempt to intervene in a situation that would put them in danger.

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Initial health and wellbeing check

If the child in your care is 14 years old or under, an initial health and wellbeing check will be organised for them through the Child at Risk Health Unit (CARHU) at the Canberra Hospital. The purpose is to identify if any health and development concerns exist and if follow-up checks are needed.

The appointment usually takes place soon after the child enters care and will be arranged by your case manager. Your case manager will provide you with the details of the appointment and may also attend. If you are required to take the child to this appointment, your role is to support and reassure them.

The assessment is often conducted in private with the child, you, CARHU staff and possibly your case manager and/or a CYPS therapeutic assessor. The CARHU staff conducting the assessment are trained and knowledgeable in working with children who have experienced abuse or neglect. They understand the child may feel uncomfortable and will be gentle and supportive during the process.

The assessment generally takes one hour. You will not be charged for the consultation. Following the assessment, the child may be referred to appropriate services. Your case manager will receive this information and incorporate it into the child’s Care or Case Plans for action.

If the child in your care is over 14 years old, a health and wellbeing check will not generally take place at CARHU. However, if your case manager believes a check is needed to properly understand and respond to the child’s potential health concerns, they will talk with the child about gaining their consent to have the check conducted and where it is most appropriate to take place, for example, the Junction Youth Health Service or a GP.

CARHU also provides concerns interviews for carers. This gives you an opportunity to share concerns about behaviours you are seeing in the child, for example, night terrors, bed wetting, unable to sleep, anxiety.

The interview is focused on helping you understand the situation and to provide practical strategies in the context of the trauma the child has experienced.

If you would like to arrange a concerns interview, contact CARHU, Monday to Friday, on (02) 5124 2712.

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Recording health information

While the child is in your care, it is important to keep an up-to-date record of their health information.

If the child is 14 years old or under, you will be provided with a Health Passport for them prior to their initial health and wellbeing check. The Health Passport is a small booklet specifically designed for children in care to allow all their health information to be stored in one location. The Health Passport can be easily inserted into the ACT Personal Health Record, also known as the Blue Book.

The Blue Book is provided to all children in the ACT to record their health information, including tracking of immunisations, height and weight. Often the Blue Book is not provided to CYPS or ACT Together, however if it is, it will be passed on to you to keep up-to-date for the child.

The Health Passport, and Blue Book if it has been provided to you, are to be used to document all health appointments and therapies for the child while they are in your care. At each appointment, ask the treating health professional to make a record of the visit in the child’s Health Passport and Blue Book. Alternatively, you can also record the information yourself in each book.

Children over 14 years old do not receive a Health Passport, however, it can be helpful to keep an informal record of their health matters. It is suggested you keep a record of any health appointments as part of your general record keeping, whether this is in a diary or on your phone, computer or email, or however you have chosen to record the child’s time in your care.

An online summary of the child’s health information, called My Health Record, may also be used. My Health Record is an initiative of the Australian Government and has been automatically created for every Australian citizen. My Health Record allows hospitals, doctors, specialists and pharmacists to upload health information (including immunisation records) specific to the child for easy reference.

For children in care under 14 years of age, where the Director-General holds parental responsibility, access to their My Health Record will be managed by CYPS in consultation with ACT Together on a case-by-case basis. You may be given access to the child’s My Health Record. For children over 14 years old, there will be an automatic parental access restriction of their My Health Record. This means the child will be required to manage their own My Health Record and can decide whether to allow access to their birth parents, carers or legal guardians.

Not all health information will be available through My Health Record and because of this the Health Passport will continue to be used in the ACT. Learn more about  the My Health RecordExternal Link

If you have any questions about accessing the child’s My Health Record, talk with your case manager.

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Medicare card

You will be provided with a Medicare card for the child you are caring for – Medicare is Australia’s health system and covers many healthcare costs. You can use this card to receive free or discounted medical services for the child, including:

  • doctors, specialists, optometrists and at times dentists and other health professionals
  • prescriptions
  • public hospital services as a public patient.

If you have not received a Medicare card for the child you are caring for, speak to you case manager about getting one.

Claiming medicare benefits

You can claim Medicare benefits when you pay for medical expenses for the child in your care. This includes circumstances where a child is yet to be listed on a card of their own. To do so, you will need to ensure you are listed as the ‘claimant’ when a claim is being made.

For electronic claims:

  • Inform the receptionist (who is taking the payment) that you wish to be listed as the claimant on behalf of the child. The receptionist will need to record your full name and Medicare card number.
  • Check the receipt (Statement of Benefit) to ensure your details are listed correctly. If they are not listed as the claimant on the receipt, advise the receptionist immediately so the issue can be rectified.

For manual claims:

For more information or assistance if you experience any problems, contact the Medicare general enquiry line on:

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Health care card

All children in care are eligible for a Health Care Card. This facilitates access to medical services that bulk bill, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medications, Federal and ACT Government dental schemes, the Spectacle Support Scheme and more. The benefits provided by the card are for the child in care only. A Health Care Card will be arranged shortly after the child enters your care. Speak to your case manager if you have not received one after a few weeks.

Further information about the Health Care CardExternal Link

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Immunisation

The child in your care should be immunised in accordance with the National Immunisation Program Schedule.

If the child is on a long-term Care and Protection Order, you, as their carer, have the authority and responsibility to ensure they are immunised. You do not require consent from anyone else.

If the child is on an interim or short-term Care and Protection Order, you will need parental consent before any immunisation is given. It is not your role to obtain this consent. When an immunisation is due, raise this with your case manager. They will speak directly with the child’s parents and seek their written consent. This written consent must be taken to the health professional to show legal consent to the immunisation has been given. If parental consent is not given, the child cannot be vaccinated. Your case manager will work with you to work through any associated issues.

Remember to take the child’s Health Passport and Blue Book to the appointment for the health professional to complete. After the immunisation, you must also provide your case manager with the details of each vaccine given to the child.

For more information about immunisation and consent, talk to your case manager.

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Medications

When the child first comes into your care, you will be provided with information about any medication they are on along with the medicine itself. If the information provided differs to the information on the medicine’s label, you will need to seek medical advice before giving it to the child. Pharmacists
can provide free information about medications and will let you know if speaking to a doctor would be more appropriate. Doctor appointments are covered as part of your Carer Subsidy.

It is important all medications, whether prescribed or non-prescribed over-the-counter medications, are stored safely and securely at all times according to your home safety check.

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Prescribed medication

If the child in your care requires prescribed medication from a doctor, such as antibiotics or ongoing medication for a diagnosed health issue, the medication must include the child’s name, dosage and expiry date.

As their carer, you must give the child the prescribed medication and must not change the dosage without authorisation from the prescribing doctor.

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Non-prescribed medication

Non-prescribed medication includes:

  • over-the-counter medication
  • medication dispensed by a naturopath or homeopath
  • medication considered complementary or alternative such as vitamins or cultural herbs.

Examples of non-prescribed medication include:

  • topical or antifungal creams for nappy rash or eczema
  • paracetamol or ibuprofen for general pain relief
  • antihistamine for an allergy
  • cold tablets for colds and runny noses
  • teething gel.

When thinking about giving the child in your care any non-prescribed medication, consider if doing so is in their best interests. Remember, as their carer you have the legal obligation to always make decisions that are in the best interests of the child.

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Administering medication

The administration of medication must be consistent with legal requirements at all times. Before giving medication to the child, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have the correct medication?
  • Has the medication expired?
  • Are you giving the medication to the right child?
  • Have you got the correct dosage for the child?
  • Are you giving the medication in the correct way (to be swallowed, put on a wound, dissolved)?
  • Are you giving the medication at the correct time?

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Refusal to take medication

At no time is the child in your care to be forced to take medication.

If the child refuses to take medication prescribed by a doctor, you should talk to them about why it is important for their health in a way that is appropriate for their age and level of understanding. Talk to them about why the medication has been prescribed and what could happen if they do not complete the course of treatment.

If the child continues to refuse and the medication is critical to their safety and care, you must immediately notify your case manager.

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Surgery and Consent

If at any time the child in your care requires surgery, consent from the Director-General (or their delegate) is required. The doctor recommending the surgery will provide you with a surgical consent form to obtain this consent.

Before leaving the doctor’s office, it is important you check the doctor has clearly explained on the form what the proposed surgery is. This ensures the Director-General will have adequate information to make a decision. Once you have checked the form, provide it to your case manager who will coordinate the consent process.

Sometimes this process can take time, so reasonable notice for the form to be completed is required. Where possible, a minimum of two weeks before the proposed surgery date should be given. Surgery cannot progress without signed consent.

If the injuries are life threatening and urgent treatment is required, the doctor treating the child may not require consent. In these circumstances, it is important to notify your case manager about what is happening with the child as soon as possible.

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