Getting ready for ‘big school’


Sir, – There are some great tips in Sheila Wayman’s feature on “Helping your child get ready for big school” (Health+Family, August 8th) which seem to boil down to making the time to prepare for this important life event and even to enjoy it.

Unfortunately, for the families around the country who are also caring for another child with complex medical needs at home, there’s no such time for “school readiness” afforded by the HSE since the introduction of the loco parentis rule which means that, even though these families have a qualified nurse at home, another adult is obligated to be there too in “loco parentis” when the parent has to leave the house. So how can they prepare for the school run? Walk the route? Buy the books and the easy-to-open, super hero lunch box?

We know this because 352 such families are currently under the wing of the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation and, where there is a healthy child getting ready for school in the household, too many of these families are being robbed of precious time throughout the day with Mum and Dad in this countdown to September.

Why are things made so difficult for carers by the HSE with rules like loco parentis that aren’t explained, haven’t been researched and don’t stack up? What this rule is doing is making prisoners of parents in their own home. We had an outpouring of questions and frustration about it earlier in the year and now radio silence.

In contrast, Jack & Jill delivers clinical nurse support in addition to real respite to parents, thus giving them a break to do the “normal” things like sleeping, shopping for school uniforms, or practising the new route to school for September.

We are told that this rule is currently under review, but this doesn’t decrease the stress level in the families caring for their sick child at home while caring about how their healthy child gets to school come September.

Not good enough. – Yours, etc,


Interim CEO,

Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation,

Naas, Co Kildare.