Going for a COVID-19 test can be daunting, especially for children, as Speech and Language Therapists in Dublin North City and County noticed when working frontline at the community testing centre at Croke Park.
Sinéad Finn, Speech and Language Therapist in Dublin North City and County, explained, “We wanted to help children who were worried when coming for testing and thought a visual story would be useful. We discussed this at our daily debrief and were delighted to be supported and encouraged by Maria Flaherty, our Clinical Lead at the Testing Centre.
“Amy Lennon and I put the story together using a programme we use to make therapy resources, and took advice and support from our Speech and Language Therapy colleagues Maria Price, Gráinne Curtin and Sarah Mullins, and our manager, Karen Butler.”
Orla, a mother of three, used the story when her daughter Jessica, aged nine was tested recently.
“Jess and I didn’t know what to expect - Jess was apprehensive about it and having the material to sit down and go through it with her took the unknown and the fear out of it for both of us.”
In designing the story, it was decided a comic strip approach would work well and talented local illustrator, Una Woods, generously gave her time for free. Una’s other work can be seen at www.unawoods.com
Public Health, with the kind support of Audrey Lambourn, ensured that all the messaging was fully accurate and in line with public health guidance.
Mellany McLoone, Chief Officer and Michelle Forde and Ellen O’Dea, Head Community Testing Centre Leads championed the project internally, saying “we’re delighted our Speech and Language Therapists have shown this initiative which supports young people going for testing.”
Reflecting on the project, which is now available nationally, Sinéad added, “We’re so grateful for this support from everyone, it’s great to hear the positive feedback and I’m thrilled with the illustrations on the stories, they really bring it to life for children.”
HSE communications both locally and nationally have assisted in its development and sharing it as a national resource, and as Valerie Kavanagh, Communications Manager, Children’s Health Ireland said, “This is a really supportive resource, which sets out simply for children what to expect in their own language, and using visuals that are warm and friendly.”
The resources have also been shared on the digital platforms across Children’s Health Ireland.
They’re available on HSE.ie.