The National Poisons Information Centre at Beaumont Hospital was amongst the winners at today’s Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Awards for their project, ‘Say NO To Poisons!.’At a ceremony in Dublin, the team was rewarded for their project which they developed when in 2011 they received over 9,000 enquiries relating to human cases of poisoning and 46.6% of these cases were children under 5 years of age.The National Poisons Information Centre won first place in the category ‘Best Health Promotion Project’ for developing ‘Say NO To Poisons!’, an unique and innovative campaign which focused on delivering age-appropriate safety information to pre-school children. The aim of the campaign was to raise poison awareness and increase understanding in children by teaching them to always ask an adult if something is safe to eat, drink or touch.
Four other organisations were also recognised for their efforts to communicate health information more clearly to the public: Winner of Best Project in General Practice -The School of Medicine, UCC for ‘CLAS – Mobile Application’; Winner of Best Project in a Hospital – The Radiation Oncology Department, CUH for ‘Understanding Radiation Therapy and the Patient Pathway’; Winner of Best Project in a Community or in a Social Setting -The Alzheimer Society of Ireland for their booklet ‘Know Your Rights’ and Deirdre Veldon and Nuala Storey, The Irish Times won an award for Best Health Communication through Journalism for ‘The Mental Health Issue’.
“The ‘Say NO To Poisons!’ project showed a clear understanding of the importance of using clear communications to deliver important health information. They used age-appropriate communication tools and a simple, effective catchphrase to communicate their message in this innovative and quantifiable campaign,” said Dr Gerardine Doyle, UCD School of Business and chairperson of the Crystal Clear Awards judging panel. “The project proved very effective in empowering pre-school children to ask questions about the safety of everyday items they encountered. Six months after the launch, over 3,600 “Say NO to Poisons!” books were ordered for childcare facilities and 238 books downloaded. There was also an increase in enquiries from the general public (24%) to the National Poisons Information Centre”.
Speaking about The National Poisons Information Centre team’s win, Nicola Cassidy, Specialist in Poisons Information, said, “Weare delighted to have won a Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy award. It is an honour to be recognised for our work. The ‘Say NO To Poisons!’ 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!’ message.’’
The five winning initiatives were selected from nearly 130 entries which had to demonstrate how they addressed the issue of health literacy. Health literacy is a person’s ability to understand and use basic health information, whether they receive it in writing, in person or over the phone. Health literacy also involves a person having the knowledge to understand their options and make informed decisions about their own health.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Ms Ciara O’Rourke, judge and Director, Access Policy & Communications, MSD, said, “Congratulations to all the winners and finalists who have been recognised today as they are helping patients to take a more active role in the management of their own lifestyle, condition or illness and to make more informed decisions about their own health. Four out of ten people in Ireland have trouble with health literacy and can have difficulty understanding health information.¹ It is fantastic to see so many excellent initiatives that are helping patients to have a better understanding of their health.”
Commenting on the awards, Inez Bailey, Director of the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA), said, “The initiatives that have been recognised here today show what can be accomplished when clear communication is used in healthcare. Many of the projects could be easily replicated by GP clinics, hospitals and patient groups around the country. NALA offers free advice on how the healthcare community can better communicate with patients so please contact us if you would like help at www.nala.ie.”
The judging panel for the awards is represented by individuals from NALA, MSD, the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), the Irish Practice Nurses Association (IPNA), UCD, a General Practice, PracticeManager.ie and University College Cork.
Further information on health literacy and the Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Awards can be found at www.healthliteracy.ie.