Category Archives: Patient and Public Information TaF

Health literacy, underpinned by digital literacy, for the 21st Century

Informed, empowered and healthy digital citizens:

Health literacy, underpinned by digital literacy, for the 21st Century

 What is our aim?

Health Education England (HEE) and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) are working together to support citizens to develop the skills that they will need to access, assess and use health information in an increasingly digital environment.

Health literacy: the issue to be addressed

Health literacy is the ability to access, critically review and use health information to make informed decisions.

With increasingly digital-first health services, citizens need health literacy skills underpinned by digital literacy.

The levels of health literacy in England are very low. Research by Rowlands et al (2015) shows that 43% adults aged 16-65 do not understand words-based health information sufficiently well to act on it; when numbers are added, 61% adults aged 16-65 do not understand.

How will we be working together?

We are inviting key partner organisations to join us to establish a ‘sustainable, common information environment through which skilled librarians and information providers support and empower digitally and health literate citizens’.

HEE is committed to a five-year initiative through which ‘health librarians will partner with a variety of information providers, supporting digital and health literacy’. We look forward to working with partners, each able to bring their expertise to the partnership and, for example, to share experience, learning and other resources.

As a first step, we brought organisations together for a virtual round table on 20th August. The round table demonstrated an appetite to develop a joint programme of work, with collaboration where appropriate also on parallel activities.

What will be the focus of the partnership?

Information workers across sectors are ideally placed to develop the health literacy skills and underpinning digital literacy skills of citizens. Many NHS library and knowledge staff are already working locally with information workers in their local communities, such as public library staff and community pharmacists, to provide training on health literacy techniques. We will expand the sharing of tools, such as the Health Literacy e-learning and geodata on variation in local health literacy levels. Local partnerships will embed skills for citizens.

If you have ideas for initiatives or are interested in partnership, please contact knowledgeforhealthcare.england@hee.nhs.uk

Ruth Carlyle @RuthCarlyle

 

Partnership working with Public Libraries- Health Information Covid-19 and Beyond

As we embark on Libraries Week 2020 alongside the context of Covid-19, it is timely to reflect on how we find stability in the professionalism and expertise of our colleagues locally, regionally and nationally, and extend this to collaborating with colleagues in other sectors.

Enabling the flow of quality information and evidence is not only a strategic driver underpinning all that we do (knowledge management); it is the ethos with which we take professional pride. Actualising this is our superpower!

Partnership working with Somerset public libraries has allowed Somerset NHS Foundation Trust library and knowledge services to see some successes in these challenging times.

Signposting to sources of trustworthy health information for Covid-19 and beyond

Establishing a good working relationship with the Development Officer (Health and Wellbeing) for Somerset Libraries worked well this year, especially for Health Information Week in July.

Previous years’ activities centered on engaging library users who physically visited the public library sites, and were promoted through a media campaign which included presence in the local press and BBC Radio Somerset. This year we had to find a different way of meeting health information needs, instead condensing activities into a coordinated social media campaign, highlighting the health information available through both services.

To set the scene, we provided public library staff with the following to inform their practice:

  • Health Education England’s national Library and Knowledge Services team has made available the https://library.nhs.uk/website which hosts information resources which front line staff can use to help them communicate effectively with patients, clients, and their families around Coronavirus.
  • The resources support NHS and social care organisations fulfil their obligations under the Accessible Information Standard to provide information for patients, service users, carers and parents with a disability, impairment or sensory loss.
  • HEE’s Library and Knowledge Services team identified that it is difficult to find information about COVID-19 in accessible formats and for specific patient groups. In liaison with Public Health England, NHS England/Improvement and the Patient Information Forum, they have compiled information:

The website includes easy read, sign language and Makaton formats as well as other communication guidance.

Poster for Somerset Libraries 2020 Health Information Week Campaign

As a result of our Health Information Week collaboration, Somerset libraries are going to build on the above by adding a section to their website giving advice for accessing health information. We are exploring the possibilities of an interactive web version of the poster or linking to our own soon to be established website.

‘Working with the staff at Musgrove Park Hospital library has been so helpful in providing us with the expertise and knowledge to ensure we are providing the public with the best information in accessing reliable health information. In particular, their training on finding reliable health information online, has been invaluable in this period of ‘fake news’ and our staff are now better equipped in signposting the public to the best available resources.’
Alex Cunningham-Scott, Development Officer (Health and Wellbeing,) Somerset Libraries

 Training the public library staff- finding a friendly socially distanced solution

Pre-Covid-19, we delivered face-to-face workshops to public library staff at various locations across the county. It allowed us insight into the challenges they faced, and the logistics of releasing and bringing staff together for training. Nonetheless, our ability to bolster skills for supporting health information was well received. Now we are faced with an additional challenge: how best to produce a digital version of our training. Training for public library staff is increasingly moving online, making the logistics of meeting less of a challenge. Perhaps a webinar would work best? Or if we recorded it, then we’d only need to do it once. These challenges are mirrored not only when we consider delivering our training offer to service users within the Trust, but in conversations across our health libraries network regionally and nationally. Now is the time to illustrate just how adaptable we are in our profession.

Promotion of public library electronic and audio book collection

In March, just before the lockdown, we facilitated a meeting between trust staff and the public library’s development lead, outreach librarian, and (perhaps most crucially) their digital technician to discuss the practicalities of enabling access to their electronic collection for our patients and carers.

We recruited trust staff with the following:

“We are currently working on a number of projects with our colleagues from the public library service. One of the ideas we have is around how best to utilise the public library electronic book/magazine stock and audio books for both staff and patients. These resources would promote wellbeing and also add to the patient experience while in hospital. You can find out more here:

https://www.somerset.gov.uk/libraries-leisure-and-communities/libraries/library-facilities/e-books-e-magazines-and-e-audiobooks/

Those who attended the meeting saw great potential for our patients; especially those staying with us for longer or undertaking rehabilitation and occupationally deprived.

Handling personal information, age restrictions/censorship etc. were raised, but balanced with the positive outcomes of more digitally literate trust staff, and the public library service signing up at least 5 new members!

As a result, a teacher in the hospital school described how We have laminated the fliers and dotted them around the wards to advertise the service.  We are hoping that patients will be able to use their own logins/devices to access the resources whilst patients and also when they leave us.”

We are early on the journey to capturing the impact of this partnership project, but (apologies for over- egging the metaphor pudding) there is some surety to be found that when navigating the Covid-19 infodemic/misinformation storm, we can ride the tide together to lead patients and the public to quality health and wellbeing resources they can trust. The mutual benefits of the partnership are already evident.

Siobhan Linsey
Deputy Library and Knowledge Services Manager
Somerset NHS Foundation Trust

One year on, a global pandemic highlights the importance of evidence-based patient information.”

A year on after writing our project report on ‘making the case for evidence-based patient information’  the importance of evidence-based information has never been more vital. Health hasn’t been just the primary concern for health and care professionals or those individuals with health conditions, it has been the predominant topic for everybody globally.

The coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) has created, what has felt like, a new industry of information for us all to consume, digest and understand in order for us to go about our daily lives. From following the current guidance to implementing changes to our libraries so we can re-open safely. We also have a role in supporting others in providing accurate and updated information on various aspects of Covid-19 too, to help give trustworthy information to inform their own health decisions and even simple day to day actions such as travel and socialising

The findings of our project report remain as relevant now as they did when we published it;

[1] Evidence-based health information makes a positive contribution to the health care system. The last few months has been a time of uncertainty, creating a sense of fear and anxiety for many of us. It has been challenging to keep track of the various channels of communication to identify authoritative information as well as shining a light on ‘fake news’ about Covid-19. When headlines citing ways of avoiding getting Covid-19 ‘through eating garlic’ or the assumption ‘only older people are susceptible’ to this infection, it provides for a confusing and potentially dangerous information landscape. Engaging our critical appraisal skills can help give others the reassurance needed to locate the most appropriate information or evidence they can understand and feel confident in its accuracy.

[2] The need for evidence-based health information is aligned with a number of high-level strategic priorities which support shared decision-making. The Health information Week web site for 2020’s campaign listed some useful questions to consider when looking at health information, including a number of resources that can be downloaded and adapted for local use. The new NHS LKS web pages  signposting members of the public to health information as well as included information and resources about Coronavirus which are easy to understand and accessible online for patients and the public alike.

[3] Library and Knowledge Services have a key role to play in influencing how health information is produced and delivered within local trusts. Since writing our report there has been a new UK-wide quality standard developed by the Patient Information Forum, TICK which can help us guide others in what they must do in order to provide robust and accurate patient information, one of the components being that it must be evidence based, to further make the case for this and highlight the contribution we can make.

[4] Sharing learning and experience across our networks – throughout the last few months NHS Library and Knowledge Services have demonstrated the benefits of sharing resources on Covid-19. Literature searches and lists of resources have been made widely available by local services so others can tap into more tailored and topics-specific information to support health and care professionals manage the tsunami of Covid-19 related information.

It would be good to hear examples of where NHS LKS have supported patients either directly or through those providing information to patients virtually during the pandemic.

How do we capture new learning and break down some of physical barriers highlighted in our report?

Emily Hopkins, Health Education England
Deena Maggs, The King’s Fund​
Victoria Treadway, NHS RightCare​
Vicki Veness, Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust​
Jacqui Watkeys, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust
Suzanne Wilson, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust​