Some time ago I blogged on the importance of health information for children NHS The Health Literacy Place | Addressing the health literacy needs of children & young people This week the Patient Information Forum @PiFonline held a conference on this subject and it seems like an appropriate time to revisit the issue.
Why is health information so important? In this 30th anniversary year of the UNCRC it’s worth reminding ourselves that children have the right to high quality information and to be active participants in their care. We know that children are thirsty for knowledge, the challenge is meeting this need with engaging information that meets their developmental stage.
When I was a child I used to get lost in a book, Alice in Wonderland was one of my favourites. The quote …
seemed to confirm that even impossible things could be worked out! Creative, engaging narratives teach us so many life lessons, and creativity is a vital component in developing health information resources to convey important messages in fun engaging ways.
It’s also worth highlighting though that we know there are some children who are more vulnerable, those from BAME groups, those with learning disabilities/autism, those from looked after backgrounds, who are likely to need additional support to access health literacy information.
Some time ago PiF produced this really helpful guide https://pifonline.org.uk/download/file/38/￼
1. Why the right information matters
2. How do we involve CYP?
3. What are the best ways to communicate with CYP?
4. How to produce resources
5. And ideas on what can we learn from others.
It’s worth dipping into!
The PiF conference heard from Professor Lucy Bray @LucyBray9 of Edge Hill University who has developed films with children on ‘Coming into Hospital’ https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/news/2019/02/launch-of-new-comic-book-and-animation-to-help-children-feel-less-worried-about-going-to-hospital/
CICRA @CICRAcharity the charity for children and young people with Crohns and Colitis https://www.cicra.org/ shared films young people had made on endoscopies and other tests that are associated with having this disease.
The Evelina Children’s team shared how they have developed great short films on having an EEG for children and families https://www.evelinalondon.nhs.uk/Home.aspx
The Motor Neurone Association @mndassoc shared the work they’ve developed for 4-10 year olds to help them understand what’s happening when an adult is diagnosed with this disease https://www.mndassociation.org/support-and-information/children-and-young-people/children-aged-four-to-ten/
And the Royal London team shared their work on developing a child centred information approach, information and ‘eye club’ with wrap around services for siblings and families when Retinoblastoma happens https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/retinoblastoma/
We also had an interactive session on using social media to engage children, highlighting some of the challenges and the opportunities it offers. What was clear was that when resources have been developed and invested in, sustained promotion is key if the resources are to have maximum impact.
It’s also worth flagging that the NHS Long term plan asks us to work to improve care for children and young people from 0-25years, it moves us as CYP Professionals from focusing on children (those up to 18), to those who are young adults. Research tells us their brain continues to develop until they are 25, therefore child and young person/young adult health information is essential.
Yet the only way we’ll continue to grow health information resources for and with this population group is by involving children and young people and focusing on what matters to them, working with professionals, educators, writers, ‘creatives’, and the voluntary sector.
I had the pleasure of hearing Dr Kelly Harding @HardingKelli a physician and author of ‘The Rabbit Effect’ at an event this week. Whilst talking about the wonderful physiological impact of kindness in healthcare, shared that for every life bio medical science saves, education saves 8, it was just the affirmation I needed that whilst medicine, treatment pathways etc are vital in managing illness, high quality health information is essential to enhance education, its an area we need to do more on in co-production with those that need it most.