Don’t you love it when someone brands something that you’ve always been doing?
Advocacy is nothing new, but by making a big deal of it, we are all prompted to think about how we can do more of it and do it better. Every consultation involving a child or young person will tend to include a bit of advocacy. I am doing it every time I tell a parent that when their febrile child is refusing to drink, that usually means that they are in pain. Parents sometimes think that paracetamol and Ibuprofen are just for reducing fever. Part of my job is to put analgesia on the agenda. It is the perfect time to do it because this is when the parents want their child to feel as well as possible.
Similarly, the impact of safety advice is greatest following an injury. So when a child or young person comes to me with a mishap, I try to work a bit of prevention in alongside the cure.
An injury is the leading cause of death in children over the age of one in the UK. (1) So, while we worry about sepsis and meningitis, preventing injury may be the real battleground. An injury is inherently preventable, as demonstrated by the massive difference between rates in different countries. It is not just a lethal injury that is important. In fact, to the children themselves, it is the debilitating injuries that really matter. Missing a sporting event or the ability to swim just before a holiday is the end of the world. Or at least it is when ‘the future’ is essentially the next month or so.
What I do is to try to throw in something relevant to the presentation. Whether injury or ingestion, there are lots of ways that we can make the environments of children and young people safer. Here are a few that are worth spreading the word about to parents and colleagues: