3.1.2  Good communication skills

An important reason for asking the mother a few simple questions at the beginning of the visit is to open good communication with her. This will help to reassure the mother that her baby will receive good care. When you treat the infant’s illness later in the visit or during any follow-up visits, you will need to teach and advise the mother about caring for her sick infant at home. You will learn more about how to communicate with and counsel the mother effectively about home treatment in Study Session 14 in this Module. The key point is that it is important to establish good communication with the mother from the beginning of the visit.

Good communication involves using several skills. You should:

  • Listen carefully to what the mother tells you. This will show her that you are taking her concerns seriously.
  • Use words the mother understands. If she does not understand the questions you ask her, she cannot give the information you need to assess and classify the infant correctly.
  • Give the mother time to answer the questions. For example, she may need time to decide if the sign you asked about is present.
  • Ask additional questions when the mother is not sure about her answer. When you ask about a main symptom or related sign, the mother may not be sure if it is present. Ask her additional questions to help her give you clearer answers.

Because a young infant’s illness can rapidly develop into serious life-threatening conditions, effective communication skills with the mother are crucial when assessing her young infant. In the next section you are going to look at the steps you need to follow when assessing a young infant.

3.1.1  Gaining the mother’s trust

3.2  Assessment