Engaging young parents at community health centre
Talking to parents at a community health centre about Health Canada’s advisory and over-the-counter cough and cold medicines was a very rewarding experience. This is a program run by a public health nurse and aimed at parents of children under 1 year old. All except one were first time parents. We talked to 2 groups:
- 14 English speaking participants (one dad accompanied the baby’s mother)
- 4 Chinese speaking mothers
As the babies were so young, it was possible to do the full powerpoint presentation with minimal disruption. We first went around the room and asked them to introduce themselves, their little one and what they did when they had coughs and colds. This worked very well. Unlike other groups, this one is facilitated by a health professional and their knowledge level reflected this. Three had heard about the advisory from the news. They were aware of non-drug techniques for managing cold and cough symptoms – saline solution and humidifiers. The nurse added that saline solution can safely be used in babies from birth – it makes them sneeze but that is good for them.
- Why should the humidifier be cool and yet hot vapour is good for colds? Answer: Heat may encourage the growth of bacteria unless thoroughly cleaned so humidifiers that run continuously are best kept cold. Vaporizers and steamers can be used for short periods and turned off.
- Nurse asked what medications are safe for breastfeeding mothers. Answer: Always ask the pharmacist
- Are throat lozenges okay? Answer: Depends on whether they have a medicinal ingredient. If just zinc or lemon, they are okay.
- Why is Advil not appropriate for kids under 6 months? Answer: they are too young to metabolize it safely
The nurse convening the Chinese group made a really insightful comment about the value of medication safety presentations for the Chinese community. For many of them it is acceptable to mix up different medications in the same container. There are many communities that may have peculiar medication practices and cultural sensitivity will help us promote safe drug use.