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Canadian Paediatric Society

Winter, colds and fevers: Getting newcomers talking

Posted on Jan 25 2016 by the Canadian Paediatric Society | Permalink

Topic(s): Public education

By: Dr. Chloé Langlois-Pelletier, Paediatric Resident at the University of Sherbrooke

In December, some colleagues and I met with about 10 newly immigrated families at two information workshops we had prepared on the theme of winter, colds and fevers. This activity was intended to prepare newcomers for their first Canadian winter, inform them of a few health resources available to them (CLSCs, clinics, hospitals, emergency numbers) and remind them of the actions to take when their child is ill as well as the various ways to assess the level of urgency of the situation.

In collaboration with two social workers already familiar with these newcomers and a paediatrician who works with this population in the community, the workshops took place in Sherbrooke’s neighbourhood intervention rooms. These rooms, located within residential complexes, are anchors not only for immigrants but also for other vulnerable populations in the community.

Following a few preliminary meetings, we ran the workshop for the first time in the Ascot neighbourhood, then again in the Jardins-Fleuris neighbourhood the following week. Each meeting of course started with introductions. We were curious to know where participants were from, how long they had been in Canada (a few weeks in most cases), and how many children they have and their ages. To facilitate a calmer discussion, some of the residents played with the children in another room while the others spoke to the parents. The majority of attendees were Francophone or understood French if spoken slowly, but we were fortunate to have an interpreter on site at the second workshop to enable participants to fully benefit from the discussion.

Next, inspired by some articles from the Caring for Kids section of the Canadian Paediatric Society’s website, we discussed cold weather safety precautions, colds (symptoms, ways to avoid spreading them, steps to take, etc.) and fevers (how to take a temperature, the normal temperature range, etc.). Several immigrants thought that cold weather itself could spread illness and that estimating body temperature using the back of the hand was a reliable method. We therefore took the opportunity to dispel certain myths that even Quebecers sometimes buy into.

The workshop was a great opportunity to interact with immigrants outside the hospital setting, answer their questions and appreciate their zest for life and sense of community. The challenge was to resist the temptation to share all our knowledge, but rather proceed according to their pace and their needs.

Each family returned home with a bag containing, among other things, a thermometer, some acetaminophen (known by most under the name paracetamol) and a nasal saline solution. In light of the arrival of a large wave of immigrants, we hope to repeat this activity several times in the coming months. We would also like to plan other workshops at neighbourhood intervention rooms, with both immigrant and non-immigrant families, on topics such as physical activity and obesity, discipline, literacy and others.


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Last updated: Jan 25 2016