Language not a barrier at Chinese family drop-in group

We had the privilege of talking to a Chinese family drop-in group held at a Richmond community centre about the over the counter cough and cold medication advisory. The facilitator had said that she never knows how many will show up but  14 families came!  The facilitator had two volunteers to help occupy the children in a corner of the room. Some of the parents brought the grand parents to look after the children while they listened to the program. Yes, it was noisy but necessary because the children are calmer if they see their parents across the room.

Of the 14 parents, 1 had seen the advisory leaflet at another drop-in program while the rest were unaware of the message. We went over the Powerpoint presentation, relying on the translator to translate every few sentences. We wondered how effective the delivery was but  it turned out that the parents understood the message very well. We could tell this from their insightful comments and questions:

  • The translator was unsure of the Chinese word for humidifier (it was amusing to see the parents help her out).
  • One parent said that they applied alcohol on their child’s body to cool down a fever. Evaporation of alcohol would have a cooling effect but this was the first time we were hearing of this. We need to look into this.
  • What do you do with the saline solution (salt water) – give the child to drink? No, it’s administered as nose drops to help with a stuffy nose. We needed to be more explicit.
  • What’s the recipe for the salt water? It is commercially available but can be prepared at home. We’ll find a recipe and share it with parents

One of the points that all the parents appreciated learning was the need to a) use proper measuring devices for medication rather than kitchen spoons and b) take the child’s weight into account when determining dosage

The facilitator had prepared a number of resources and handouts to support our message – emphasizing the importance of correct hand-washing in cold prevention.  We talked about the value of the BC health Guide as a source of health information for these parents. These community groups and the dedicated facilitators who run them have a really important role in disseminating health information and promoting health particularly in diverse communities. And who said that language is a barrier?

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