New resources now available from the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ aim to empower families to better manage children’s asthma.
The Foundation has released its Child Asthma Action Plans and its Child Asthma Symptom Diaries as digitally-editable documents, making these resources even easier for families and health professionals to use. The plans are available in English, te reo Māori, Samoan and Tongan and are completed by the healthcare practitioner, alongside the patient and whānau.
"The concept of an asthma action plan is simple, but powerful. These self-management tools significantly reduce the chances of having a potentially serious asthma flare-up, as they set out how to recognise and respond to worsening asthma symptoms using the child’s prescribed medication. As a result of being able to respond quickly, GP and hospital visits are reduced and lives saved," says Foundation Chief Executive Letitia Harding.
"Unfortunately, we also know that asthma action plans are rarely used, despite the fact that New Zealanders have one of the worst rates of asthma in the world." With 1 in 8 New Zealand children living with asthma, and thousands being admitted to hospital every year, we need to be using every tool available to improve asthma management, and we know asthma action plans work."
By making resources available in a digitally-editable format and in multiple translations, the Foundation hopes that families will be empowered to better manage their children’s asthma.
The Child Asthma Action Plan is presented in a simple traffic light layout design; clearly detailing the symptoms that show a child’s asthma is well-controlled (green level) and then what to do if asthma worsens (orange and red levels). It contains details of all current asthma medications and doses, how to respond to worsening symptoms and what to do in an asthma emergency, as well as important health contacts.
"The beauty of these plans is that they combine all the essential information to effectively manage your child’s asthma into one document, which can be referred to as often as necessary. You don’t need to rely on your memory of your last conversation with your health professional, much of which is forgotten as soon as you get home" explains Foundation Research and Education Manager Joanna Turner.
"Our hope is that health practitioners will save the digital templates to their desktop to fill in with patients, during appointments. The plans can be then saved to the patient’s medical records, flagged for regular review, and then emailed back to caregivers or shared via health management portals like Manage My Health. Families can save the plans to their phone or other digital device, so critical information is always readily accessible. The plan can then be shared with other family members, schools, sports coaches, whoever might need that information," explains Ms Turner.
The Child Asthma Symptom Diary is an easy-to-complete, visual record of daily symptoms like coughing and wheezing. It also records how many doses of the child’s reliever inhaler have been taken in a day. The digital diary can be easily shared with health practitioners, providing a detailed record of the child’s asthma symptoms. "These can be an invaluable tool when health practitioners are evaluating the impact of asthma day to day, particularly when asthma may not be well-controlled, eg. after a cold or chest infection, or if a new medicine is initiated" says Ms Turner.
The Foundation’s digital asthma management plans for children and adults are available here: https://www.asthmafoundation.org.nz/resources/topic/asthma-action-plans
The Child Asthma Symptom Diaries are available here: https://www.asthmafoundation.org.nz/resources/child-symptom-diary
The development of these digital plans was made possible thanks to generous funding from The Pelorus Trust.