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close this bookAdvising Mothers on Management of Diarrhoea in the Home - A Guide for Health Workers (WHO, 1993, 18 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentBasic skills
View the documentInformation summary sheet (blank)
Open this folder and view contentsPractising the steps
View the documentReview of information using the Mother's Card
View the documentReview of the steps
View the documentSumming-up exercise
View the document(Optional): Refer the mother to a small group session if necessary
View the documentLeading a demonstration
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Information summary sheet (blank)

Drinks to recommend in your area



Foods to recommend in your area

Names for diarrhoea

How each is treated now (** for harmful treatments)

What to suggest in place of harmful treatments







Other related illnesses

How each is treated now (** for harmful treatments)

What to suggest in place of harmful treatments










Other harmful practices to advise against:


How to advise against; what to suggest in its place:

Basic skill: Use simple language

One very important skill which will help you when you are advising mothers is to use clear and simple language.

Health workers learn about diseases and treatments using very technical or scientific terms. When these terms become familiar, it is easy to forget that people who are not health workers may not understand them. It is also easy to forget that there may be other, simpler ways of saying things. For these reasons, health workers often use technical terms which mothers do not understand, or they give instructions that mothers cannot follow. For example, a health worker may advise the mother to prepare rice water using 50 grams of rice. If the mother does not know what "grams" are, or if she does not have a way of measuring the rice, she may not know what to do. It would be clearer to tell her to use "one open handful" of rice.

Short-answer exercise

In this exercise you will practise changing several difficult sentences into simple, everyday language. You will need to decide which of the terms used in the sentence may be difficult for a mother to understand, and then replace them with a more common expression. Some suggested answers can be found on the page following the exercise.

Example:

"Diarrhoea can lead to dehydration, so you must give your child greater quantities of fluids than usual."



Simplification:

"Diarrhoea can make your child lose a lot of water from his body, and he may become dry and weak, so you should give him more to drink than usual."



Explanation:

The words "dehydration", "greater quantities", and "fluids" may not be familiar to the mother. It is simpler to say "lose water" (or "become dry"), and "more to drink".

For each of the following sentences, write the same thing in a simpler way.

1.

"Mix the contents of this ORS packet with 1 000 ml of water and give your child 200 ml each time she has loose motions."




Simplification:



2.

"After the diarrhoea episode, your child needs increased nutrition."




Simplification:



3.

"Antidiarrhoeal preparations seem to stop the symptoms of diarrhoea but do not prevent dehydration, so they should never be used for children."




Simplification:



4.

"Bring your child to the health centre if he is in danger of becoming dehydrated."




Simplification:

Suggested answers:

1.

"Mix the contents of this ORS packet with three soft-drink bottles of water and give your child a small cupful every time she has diarrhoea."



2.

"After the diarrhoea is over, your child needs to eat more than usual."



3.

"Some medicines will make it look like the diarrhoea has stopped, but they do not make the baby well. They should not be used for children."



4.

"Bring your child to the health centre if he has difficulty eating or drinking, if he has many watery stools, if he is vomiting, has a fever, or has blood in his stools."

Basic skill: Ask questions

Asking questions is another very important skill for a health worker. This skill is especially useful when advising mothers, because it will allow a real exchange of information between you and the mother. The process you will follow when advising mothers begins with asking questions. The advice you give will be based on the mother's answers.

A question can be used for several purposes. For example, it can help you to find out basic information, or it can help you to get more information about something a mother has said. You can use questions to check what a mother already knows, and to check whether she understands and remembers what you have told her.

Although there are many ways to ask questions, all questions fall into two main categories, closed and open. Sometimes you will need simple information from the mother; in this case you will probably want to ask a question that needs only "Yes" or "No" as the answer. This is referred to as a closed question.

Most closed questions begin with:

Did...? Do...? Will...? Has...?

Examples:

"Do you know how to prepare ORS solution?"
"Has your child been drinking?"

It is often more useful to phrase questions in such a way that the mother must say more than just "Yes" or "No". These are referred to as open questions.

Most open questions begin with:

What...? How much...? When...? Why...? How...?

Examples:

"How do you prepare ORS solution?"
"What has your child been drinking?"
"How much has your child had to drink?"

Short-answer exercise

The following is an individual exercise to help you change "Yes-No" (closed) questions into questions that gather more information (open questions). After each closed question, write an open question that might be asked instead. Suggested answers may be found on the page after the exercise.

Example

Closed:

"Do you have a 1-litre container at home to measure water for mixing ORS?"



Open:

"What containers do you have at home to measure water for mixing ORS?"

Exercise

1.

Closed:

"Will you feed your child when you get home?"





Open:





2.

Closed:

"Do you know when to bring your child back?"





Open:





3.

Closed:

"Do you understand what you should do at home now?"





Open:


Suggested answers to short-answer exercise:

1.

"What kinds of foods will you feed your child when you get home?" or,


"How will you encourage your child to eat when you get home?"



2.

"When will you bring your child back?"



3.

"What will you do for your child at home now?"