The My Medicines sheet was developed for AAMW 2007 as a fun and easy to use downloadable sheet for parents and health professionals to fill in with children to help them understand more about the medicine they have been prescribed. The sheets can be used to focus on the particular medicines someone may be taking as as a way to remind both children and parents of the sort of questions they can ask about medicines.
At the request of the Department of Health, this year we have had the original My Medicines sheet translated into ten languages – the ten languages most commonly spoken by unaccompanied asylum seeking children. The sheets have been translated and tested with community members who speak the language and work with young people. While they are designed for young people they may also be useful when communicating with non-English speakers about medicines.
You can download the My Medicines sheets in the following languages:
Organisations are welcome to use the My Medicines blank template and produce their own translated versions of the sheet.
We have also, with the assistance of refugee and asylum seeking expert Cath Maffia, developed some Top Tips for communicating with asylum seeking or refugee children
- The child is a child first and a refugee or asylum seeker second. However, the fact that she or he is an exile makes a profound difference to his or her life and life experiences. Their lives, both in the country of origin and in the UK, are very different from the lives of children born and growing up in the UK.
- Consider the background. The child may have been involved in, or witnessed, extreme events. Health is unlikely to be the first concern of themselves or their parents.
- Trust may be an issue. For many of these children the world has been a hostile place, and health care professionals do not have an automatic place among the few adults who can be trusted. Don’t expect to do too much in one session.
- Refugees and asylum seekers are not a homogeneous group. They come from many different countries, cultural backgrounds, religions and ethnic groups. It’s impossible to know about all these different backgrounds; treat the person in front of you as an individual with their own needs and experiences.
- Explain yourself. School health advisers and health visitors are unique to the UK. Explain your role from first base.
- Language. Although English will probably not be the child’s first language, children usually pick up the English language very quickly. Use clear, straightforward language, with no jargon or slang; speak slowly, leaving some ‘white space’ between words; don’t use 20 words when 3 will do; explain concepts – for example, ‘confidentiality’ = ‘I will not tell anybody what you tell me without your permission.’ Check back with the child to make sure that you have been understood. If in doubt, use an interpreter.
- Observe body language, and be aware of your own body language. Anyone who does not understand the language that the people around them are speaking becomes very acutely aware of non-verbal communication.
- Culture. In most refugee producing countries it is not the cultural norm to question doctors and health professionals – ‘doctor knows best’. Children, and especially their parents, may need gentle encouragement to bridge this cultural divide and begin to ask questions in order to understand their illness and its treatment.
- School is a normalising influence. As such it is very important for mental health and wellbeing. You are part of this process.