Drumshanbo native shortlisted for National Health Literacy Award

Drumshanbo native, Pauline O’Connor, who works in the Marie Keating Foundation, has been given national recognition for her outstanding efforts to communicate with patients in a crystal clear way.

Drumshanbo native, Pauline O’Connor, who works in the Marie Keating Foundation, has been given national recognition for her outstanding efforts to communicate with patients in a crystal clear way.

Pauline and her team from the Marie Keating Foundation have been shortlisted for their initiative “Breast Cancer Awareness Program for Women with Intellectual Disabilities” in the sixth annual Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Awards in the Category, Best Health Promotion Project. As a result of being shortlisted, Pauline and her team will be invited to attend the Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Awards Ceremony in Dublin on Monday, May 13.

It is acknowledged in research literature that women with Intellectual Disability (ID) have less access to and less understanding of preventative health screenings than women in the general population. This program was developed between the Marie Keating Foundation, KARE and the Brothers of Charity services who agreed that the needs of women with Intellectual Disability in relation to breast awareness was not being sufficiently addressed through the current literature available. Their aim was to use easy to read and visual presentation techniques to enable women with Intellectual Disability to become more empowered in breast health awareness; knowing what is normal, understanding the importance of early detection, knowing what changes to look for and who to talk to if concerned.

The Marie Keating Foundation’s existing Breast Cancer presentation was revised with input from women with Intellectual Disability to make it more accessible. To extend the programme’s reach to as many women as possible, a ‘training the trainers’ programme was piloted in KARE and rolled out across frontline workers supporting women with Intellectual Disability around the country from the Marie Keating Foundation’s staff. Comprehensive evaluation following the initial pilot workshop and subsequent evaluation of women attending the workshops found an increase in understanding of what to look for when doing a self-examination and why they would check their breasts. The ‘training the trainers’ workshops continue to have impact by reaching more and more women and increasing the opportunity for the workshop to be regularly repeated.

Almost 130 entries were received this year across the healthcare sector including; GPs, nurses, practice managers, physiotherapists, and hospital catering managers. The entry level to the Crystal Clear Awards has remained very high over the last six years and highlights the strong level of interest in health literacy in the healthcare environment in Ireland. Health literacy involves a person being able to understand basic health information whether they receive it in writing, in person or over the phone. It also involves a person having the knowledge to understand their options and make informed decisions about their own health.

The Awards are a partnership between MSD and NALA with representation on the judging panel from the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), Irish Practice Nurse Association (IPNA), UCD, a General Practice and NALA.