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Injury prevention home visit to keep kids safe

PRESS RELEASE 5 September 2008

Injury prevention home visit to keep Kawerau kids safe is highly commended at national safety awards

An in-home injury prevention programme in Bay of Plenty has built on its success in helping parents create a safer home environment for their children, by succeeding at the New Zealand Community Safety and Injury Prevention Awards.

The Kawerau Home Safety for Preschoolers Pilot Project (KHSPPP) provided injury prevention information on falls, poisoning and burns during home visits to 40 homes in Kawerau.

The project received “highly commended” at the New Zealand Community Safety and Injury Prevention Awards held in Wellington, Monday 1 September. The awards are supported by ACC as part of its Safety NZ Week.

The project was entered in the category rewarding an ‘Outstanding example of the New Zealand Injury Prevention Strategy framework guiding the development of a community safety and/or injury prevention initiative or programme’.

The project was developed in partnership by Toi Te Ora - Public Health, Plunket, Safe Kawerau Kids Injury Prevention Project (SKKIPP) and Te Manu Toroa.

The Plunket nurses and the SKKIPP coordinator used their home-visiting and relationship skills to deliver injury prevention information to, and encourage behaviour change in, parents and caregivers of preschool children.

One of the project’s primary co-ordinators, Carmen O’Meeghan from Toi Te Ora – Public Health, said home visits are a very promising way to deliver injury prevention information to parents and create safer home environments for children.

“We couldn’t have carried out the project so well without the skills and commitment of SKKIPP and Plunket’s home visitors. Simply having knowledge about something doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be changes in behaviour. But what can have a dramatic impact on prevention behaviour is delivering that knowledge in someone’s home face-to-face in a diplomatic way. Sometimes all the parent needs to do is make some small changes,” she said.

“This project didn’t focus on what parents and caregivers were doing wrong. Instead, home visitors encouraged positive change by providing parents with clear and easy tips for keeping homes safe for children to live, learn and play. Home visitors then followed up to see what changes the caregivers had made and encouraged further change if necessary.

“The relationship between home visitor and parent was an important component to the success of this project. Because of that, the response from parents and caregivers was fantastic,” Ms O’Meeghan said.

Among the positive behaviour changes were:

Hot water and burns: At the start of the project, 38% of parents knew how to reduce their hot water temperature to be between 50 and 55 degrees at the tap. At the end of the project 73% knew how and had acted to turn the temperature down.

Poisonings: The number of parents who requested medications with childproof lids doubled to 73%. The number of parents choosing cleaning products with child resistant packaging increased from 48% to 73%. Also the use of latches on cupboards increased from 55% to 93%.

Falls: The number of households keeping floors clear of tripping hazards increased from 23% to 93%, and the number of parents who said they would better supervise older children when they held smaller children rose from 60% to 93%.

“We’re really pleased that there has been some interest in our initial programme,” Carmen O’Meeghan said. “Te Manu Toroa (a Kaupapa Maori Health Care Service) have just started it in Tauranga, with the addition of child car restraints, and other hauora in the wider Tauranga area have also shown interest.

Ms O’Meeghan said Phase Two of the initial project is also currently being delivered in Kawerau. This home visiting project incorporates the same model but looks at safe play and child car restraints. It is also hoped that a toolkit encompassing all of these injury prevention issues will be developed so that others can benefit from this promising intervention.

“The really pleasing thing for us is that now so many more children will be safe in the in their homes – an area that accounts for injuries to 60,000 preschoolers each year,” she said.

The New Zealand Community Safety and Injury Prevention Awards’ chief judge, Dr Carolyn Coggan, said the project showed great community cooperation.

“I appreciate how this project was devised in response to a need in the community, and how it showed great cooperation and coordination across several local organisations. This is very much how the New Zealand Injury Prevention Strategy envisages community organisations working, so it’s great to see it in action,” she said.


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