LHD Health Literacy Examples

There is consistent evidence that indicates associations between individual health literacy, health behaviour and health outcomes. A survey in 2006 (Adult Literacy and Life Skills) identified that almost 60 per cent of adult Australians have low health literacy.

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions (Institute of Medicine, 2004).This will include the way health information is provided and presented to consumers, as well as how consumers find and use the services available.

The two key areas that we are focusing on to improve health literacy are in individuals, and in the health literacy environment.

An example of one Local Health District's journey

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) has undertaken a journey to partner with staff and consumers to improve health literacy in their facilities. They have developed local resources to help staff to develop consumer friendly information that meets the principles of good health literacy.

The CEC is delighted to showcase the leadership of ISLHD in the area of Health Literacy. The district is willing to share their resources and we encourage all health services to look at the ISLHD Health Literacy Framework and consider implementing similar processes with a strategic, district-wide approach.

To provide a consistent approach, a local intranet site hosts frameworks for developing consumer information in plain English and a toolkit is available, which supports implementation. The district has endorsed the system and approved an internal policy.

A local register has been developed to capture all consumer information provided by the district and to ensure all documents are reviewed using a consistent process.

The final step in the process was for ISLHD to establish a Health Literacy Ambassador Program within the district. The role of a Health Literacy Ambassador is to facilitate and support the staff in their local development of information brochures.

They also work with each service to complete an inventory of patient information resources. The aim is to prioritise the review and production of new and existing patient information documents in a plain English.

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