Breast Cancer Awareness

07 November 2023

Residents from Stewarts Care partnered with Breast Cancer Ireland to develop an easy read handbook aimed at educating individuals with intellectual disabilities about breast health and empowering them to recognise signs of breast cancer.

Led by Louise O’Reilly, Clinical Nurse Specialist Health Promotion in Stewarts Care and Carol Scott Outreach Coordinator in Breast Cancer Ireland, this collaborative effort saw five residents from Stewarts Care provide valuable input and insights to develop this accessible resource.  A year in the making, the team’s passion for ensuring this message reaches women and those who support them resulted in the adaptation of available information regarding the 8 signs and symptoms of breast cancer, so that it is more easily understood by people with intellectual disabilities.

Speaking about the project, Louise O’Reilly emphasised, “Our health promotion campaigns in Stewarts Care, are intended to reach not only those who use our service, but also their families and support staff. Our goal is to equip everyone with key knowledge, essential for supporting better health outcomes. Effective communication is central to enhancing understanding and retention of information. Together with our Speech and Language Therapy team and Breast Cancer Ireland, we produced this handbook in easy read format, specifically designed to help educate people with intellectual disability who may have a different style of communication.  We are delighted to contribute to this national resource which will have an impact across the island of Ireland. Julie, Elizabeth, Clodagh, Margaret, Mairead, residents in Stewarts Care, played an invaluable role in reviewing and contributing to the document’s structure, language and presentation. We thank them for their support, they should be very proud of the work they have done to help promote breast cancer awareness”.

Speaking at the launch, Samantha McGregor, Breast Cancer Ireland Development Manager highlighted, “Incidence rates for developing breast cancer are similar for women regardless of intellectual ability. However, women with intellectual disabilities encounter unique barriers to breast cancer awareness, including comprehension challenges, caregiver roles, and literacy issues. We were thrilled to work with Julie, Elizabeth, Clodagh, Margaret, Mairead in Stewarts Care to develop this handbook and start to overcome the barrier to awareness. This initiative aims to enhance inclusivity and comprehension in our resources, catering for all.  Families, support staff, healthcare providers, and society at large play a pivotal role in creating an environment where every individual, regardless of their abilities, can effectively manage their health."

Margaret participated in the development of the handbook and said, “I learned that skin can look like orange peel, that is a sign to look for. It was good to help other women

The easy-to-read handbook was officially launched at Stewarts Care as part of our Breast Cancer Awareness activities. The launch featured a practical workshop for people supported by Stewarts Care, accompanied by an informative session by Carol Scott, Breast Cancer Ireland Outreach Coordinator. Carole demonstrated self-breast examination techniques using a medical mannequin and highlighted the eight critical signs and symptoms to watch for. The handbook is now accessible for download on the Stewarts Care website.

For more information on breast cancer and to learn about the eight signs of breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Ireland website at Education & Awareness - Breast Cancer Ireland

Download your copy of the Easy Read Handbook here.