ADARE’S Fidelma Brown has made the world a lot safer for a lot of small children and has won a national award for doing so.At a ceremony in Dublin last Friday, Fidelma and her team were announced as category winners in this year’s Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Awards for their project, Say No To Poisons’ Their initiative was deemed the best in the .Best Health Promotion Project and there were four other categories in the awards scheme.
“We are delighted to have won a Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy award,” Ms Brown said after the ceremony, and speaking on behalf of the team. “It is an honour to be recognised for our work. The campaign has been a great success and winning this award means we will gain national recognition for our efforts as well as raise further awareness of the Say No To Poisons initiative.”
The impetus for their project came from some startling facts about human poisoning. Almost half of the 9,219 enquiries to the National Poisons Centre in Beaumont Hospital in 2011 involved children under the age of five. Yet traditionally, poison prevention has been aimed at adults and has focused on safe storage.
Fidelma and her team focused instead on children and their aim was to raise poison awareness and increase understanding in pre-school children.
This was done by developing a child-focused learning programme where children learned to always ask an adult if something is safe to eat, drink or touch. The approach used was a storybook with the title Say NO to Poisons but the learning programme also involved a learning plan for childcare practitioners, safety signs, worksheets, posters, a slide show and fridge magnets. A pilot study was run and information evenings for parents held.
Six months on, over 3,600 of the books had been ordered by childcare facilities and several hundred more downloaded.
There was also an increase in enquiries from the general public (24%) to the Poisons Centre, increased orders for Poison Prevention Leaflets (30%) and fridge magnets (10,000) as well as over 1,500 “ABC of Poisoning” posters being requested.
“Four out of ten people in Ireland have some difficulty with health literacy so everyone working within the healthcare sector has a role to play in ensuring information provided to service users is accessible and clear,” Ciara O’Rourke, Access, Policy & Communications Director at MSD said, explaining the reason why the company is involved in the awards scheme. “The judging panel was impressed with the innovative approach many have taken to help patients take a more active role in understanding their health needs and therefore making more informed decisions.”