A simple, pictorial card reminding the mother of home care instructions, when to return for follow-up care and the signs indicating the need to return immediately to the hospital can be given to each mother. This card will help her to remember the appropriate foods and fluids and when to return to the health worker.
Appropriate cards should be available as part of national IMCI guidelines. If they are available, use them; if not, see Annex 6 for a reference to an example.
When reviewing the mother’s card with the mother:
- Hold the card so that she can easily see the pictures, or allow her to hold it herself.
- Point to the pictures as you talk, and explain each one; this will help her to remember what the pictures represent.
- Mark the information that is relevant to the mother. For example, put circles around the feeding advice for the child’s age and around the signs to return immediately. If the child has diarrhoea, tick the appropriate fluid(s) to be given. Record the date for the next vaccination.
- Watch to see if the mother looks worried or puzzled. If so, encourage questions.
- Ask the mother to tell you in her own words what she should do at home. Encourage her to use the card to help her remember.
- Give her the card to take home. Suggest that she show it to other family members. (If you do not have a large enough supply of cards to give to every mother, keep several in the clinic to show to mothers.)
- Provide an effective interpreter if language is a barrier.