Host tips #7: What to do if a student falls ill while staying in your home

Of course, nobody would wish to have an unwell person stay with them if given the choice in advance. However, it is important to remember that illness is something we do not plan or have any control over and could happen to any one of us at any time. Getting sick unpleasant under any circumstances, but when it happens when you are hundreds of miles away from home in a country where the medical services and the language are unfamiliar to you, it can feel like a double whammy.

Luckily the vast majority of illnesses we experience are minor and will pass with a day or two in bed. However, it is important to keep an eye on guests if they become unwell and to assist them to find medical help if required.

What to do?

If the student/guest staying with you is under 18 years of age, there is a greater duty of care in regards to their health and well-being. Don’t worry, this does not mean you are expected to have expert medical knowledge, only that you will immediately report any illnesses to the student’s guardian and to a designated safeguarding officer at London Homestays as well as assist the student in contacting medical help such as your local GP or walk-in centre.

For all students/guests aged both over and under 18, the key consideration is to be prepared. Most students will be able to use NHS services for free while they are in the UK and in addition we always advise students to take out supplementary travel insurance. If the guest will be staying with you for more than a few weeks, it would be advisable for them to register with your local GP and to know where other local services such as walk-in centres and pharmacies are located. You can be of great assistance to them by pointing them in the right direction and giving some basic advice on how to register as well as some local knowledge e.g. the most helpful local pharmacy. If a student does fall ill or has an accident, we ask that hosts use common sense, and first contact medical services such as calling 111 or your local GP, as a medically-trained professional will be in a far better position to assist than our office, and then contact our team (emergency numbers can be found on the booking confirmation) so that we can register the illness and inform the student’s school and family/guardian.

As above, the vast majority of illnesses or injuries are minor, meaning your student will be able to recover after a period of rest. However, it is important to remember that feeling ill generally feels much worse than doing so at home with familiar surroundings. We, therefore, ask that hosts take this into consideration if a student does feel unwell, to keep an eye on them, ensure they eat and drink as much as they are able to and if necessary seek medical advice. If you are not feeling great and are a long way from home, a little compassion goes a long way.

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