Types of service

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Types of service an NHS Library might offer to the public

Ideally, you could offer a mixture of these services and there are many more ideas in the Ideas Bank, but some of these services may not be appropriate for all libraries. For more detailed advice on determining the boundaries and advice on dealing with enquiries see Dealing with enquiries and the more detailed Guidance for library assistants. There are also training resources and materials available to help library staff. There are example Frequently Asked Questions with answers.

Click on each of the 6 links below to find further guidance: 

1. Helping healthcare staff to provide high quality patient information

Case study: Contributing to the Trust achieving the Information Standard for accreditation of Patient Information Leaflets

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has a rigorous process for the production of Patient Information Leaflets. The library staff collaborate closely with the Trust’s Policy Co-ordinator to ensure the production of Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) is evidence based and follows a standardised format. A librarian attends PIL development meetings, evidence underpinning the information is sought in a systematic way and the leaflets are reviewed by a lay readers panel, as well as validated by a clinical team, of which the Clinical Librarian is a member. The leaflets are then produced commercially, following an online template available on the Trust’s intranet, which ensures the leaflets look professional and are therefore more likely to be trusted by patients. The Trust achieved accreditation with the Information Standard and has successfully retained it over the last 8 years. For more information see the Ideas Bank

2. Walk-in use of print resources for reference

3. Enquiry service for patients and the public

4. Collaboration with your local public library service          

Case study: Providing health information skills training to public library staff

In summer 2013, North East London NHS Trust’s Library Team provided hands on health information skills training to local public library staff as part of the Trust’s Recovery College pilot project. Immediate post-training evaluations were very positive. Follow up survey found that public library staff who had had the opportunity to use the knowledge and skills gained in the training reported that they took less time to answer enquiries and had confidence in the information they gave to the enquirer.  For more information see the Ideas Bank

5. Facilitating patient / public health literacy

Case Study: Providing sessions to patients on safe health information websites.

As part of the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative, library staff at Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust attend well-being sessions held at community venues. They engage with patients, their families and carers by encouraging them to access websites which display quality standards, such as the Information Standard, for their health information. They also give simple website appraisal advice using the mnemonic WWW (who, what and where). As well as a display, there is a leaflet for patients. This leaflet has now been adopted by the Trust as a core part of every patient information stand. These sessions have also been requested by healthcare staff in other areas for their patient support groups. For more information see the Ideas Bank

 6. The library open to the public