Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) for Study Session 14

Now that you have completed this study session, you can assess how well you have achieved its Learning Outcomes by answering the questions below. Write your answers in your Study Diary and discuss them with your Tutor at the next Study Support Meeting. You can check your answers with the Notes on the Self-Assessment Questions at the end of this Module.

SAQ 14.1 (tests Learning Outcomes 14.1, 14.2, 14.3, 14.4 and 14.6)

  • a.What information would you give to a mother whose child has mouth ulcers?
  • b.What could you do to ensure that the mother understands your instructions?
  • c.List some of the good communication skills you would be using when advising the mother.


  • a.Mouth ulcers often affect children’s ability to eat well. You should tell the mother that the ulcers will begin to improve, and her child will start eating normally, if she paints the ulcers with half-strength gentian violet (this kills the germs causing the ulcers). The mother should do this by first wrapping a clean cloth around her finger, dipping this in salt water and using it to clean the child’s mouth. Next, the mother should paint the mouth ulcers with gentian violet on a cloth or cotton-tipped stick. Tell her she should make sure that the child does not drink any of the gentian violet.

    The mouth ulcers should be treated in this way two times per day, in the morning and evening for five days. However the mother should come back to the health post after two days for a follow -up visit so that you can check progress.

  • b.The way to be sure that the mother has understood your instructions is to ask her open-ended checking questions such as, ‘Tell me what you’re going to do before painting the ulcers with gentian violet?’; ‘How often and for how many days do you need to treat the ulcers with gentian violet?’; ‘Can you show me how you are going to do the treatment?’; and ‘When are you going to return to see me with your child?’
  • c.You might have thought of quite a few good communication skills that you would have used in this case. For example, asking and listening to the mother carefully when she tells you about her child and praising her for what she is already doing well. You would give her advice in clear terms that she can understand, and ask good checking questions to ensure she knows what to do and when.

SAQ 14.2 (tests Learning Outcomes 14.2 and 14.3)

  • a.Why is it important to ask mothers or caregivers good checking questions?
  • b.Suggest three examples of good checking questions.
  • c.Give examples of three poor checking questions, and say why these are not effective ways of ensuring the mother understands what you have explained to her during the visit.


  • a.Good checking questions are important to ensure the mother or caregiver really understands how she is going to provide the best possible home care and treatment for her child. If you have given the mother instructions such as how to give oral antibiotics or treat an eye infection then you need to know that the mother will be able to carry out these instructions safely and accurately at home. If mothers are feeling anxious they may say they know what to do, without really being sure. By asking good checking questions, you can be more certain that the mother has really understood how to care for her child at home and when, if at all, she needs to return for a follow-up visit.
  • b.These are some examples of good checking questions that we thought of — you will probably have thought of some other examples too:
    • Tell me how you are going to make a wick?
    • How many times are you going to clean your child’s ear?
    • When are you going to come back to the health post for a follow-up visit?
  • c.Poor checking questions are ‘closed’ questions, that is, the mother can answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but you cannot be really sure she has understood what you have taught her. For example:
    • Do you know how to make a wick?
    • Are you going to clean your child’s ear three times every day?
    • Do you know when you need to come back for the next follow-up visit?

Read Case Study 14.1 and then answer the questions below.

Case Study 14.1 for SAQ 14.3

Mimi is a six-month-old child who is being treated for dysentery and an acute ear infection. She also has a fever.

SAQ 14.3 (tests Learning Outcomes 14.3, 14.4, 14.5 and 14.6)

  • a.What advice would you give the mother about a follow-up visit?
  • b.What information would you give the mother about treating the child at home, and how would you know if she understands your advice?
  • c.What signs would alert the mother that she needs to bring the child back to the health post immediately?


  • a.The mother should be told that follow-up visits have to take place after two days and again after five days from the initial visit when Mimi’s illness was classified. This is so that Mimi’s progress can be monitored.
  • b.You would advise the mother to breastfeed Mimi more frequently and allow her to take more time at each feed. The mother should also give Mimi more fluids, according to either Plan A or Plan B (on your ‘Treat the Child’ chart). Show the mother how to wick Mimi’s ear to dry up the discharge and remind her that the next follow-up visit is in two days’ time. You would ask good checking questions to make sure that the mother understands everything you’ve told her during the visit.
  • c.Tell the mother that she should return immediately if Mimi is unable to breastfeed or drink, or is drinking poorly, or if her illness appears to be getting worse. If Mimi develops other symptoms, such as fever or blood in her stool, the mother should also return immediately to the health post.

Summary of Study Session 14