Why a Health Literacy Audit? I’d tell the doctor that I couldn’t fill out the forms. That I had very low literacy skills, and I didn’t understand half of what they were saying. Whey they give you the forms they just throw them at you and expect you to fill them out. I would get so frustrated that I would just leave. - Lil
It is a series of checklists to help health organizations and providers choose more literacy-friendly methods of communicating with patients.
The Health Literacy Audit will: Help you understand patients’ health literacy needs. Reaffirm the practices health organizations already do well. Give effective suggestions for providing health information to patients.
The Health Literacy Audit is not to: The Health Literacy Audit is not meant to: evaluate the job performance of staff. test the literacy levels or health knowledge of patients. be used as a tool to label people as “illiterate,” or “learning disabled,” etc. be a quick fix solution; it is the starting point for you to address long term and ongoing health literacy issues.
Who is the Health Literacy Audit for? Any organization communicating with patients, including: Community health centres Public health organizations Hospital or long-term care centres Pharmacies Medical or dental clinics Medical research facilities, etc.
Who is using the Health Literacy Audit? Centre for Literacy of Quebec in collaboration with Memorial University is using a checklist from the Health Literacy Audit in an online healthcare provider training course. Legacies 2010 in BC is using it as part of their training with primary care physicians. North Bay Literacy Council in ON is using it with staff at two local hospitals. University of Waterloo is training pharmacy students using the Health Literacy Audit; pharmacy students are conducting health literacy audits at their practicum placements.
What are the topics of the checklists? Advertising Health facility setting Admission procedures Appointments Discharge procedures Patient education English as an Additional Language and Cultural Sensitivity Clear print materials Staff and volunteer training
Each checklist has a varying number of questions, from 10 – 31. The first checklist is called the Health Literacy Audit Short Form. It contains 31 questions selected from all of the sections. This is an effective checklist to use when a group cannot decide on which section of the audit to concentrate.
What is the rating scale? A We are doing this consistently. B We are doing this, but we could make some improvements. C We are not doing this and should consider it for future implementation. N/A Not applicable OR we do not have the resources in our community to do this.
Some sample questions from various sections. Rate your own organization as we go through.
Remember A – means consistency B – means improvements could be made in this area C – means you’re not doing it, but think you should N/A – not applicable or you don’t have the resources to do this
Health facility setting The entrance to our health facility is clearly marked with our name and logo. Our signs use standardized medical symbols and plain language words to describe the medical jargon or terminology about our services. (Such as using the words ‘Cancer’ and ‘Oncology’ on the same sign.)
Admission procedures Our forms require only brief words, phrases, or check boxes to complete each question. We always go over forms verbally with patients to ensure they have understood what information we are requesting and why.
Appointments We use gestures, drawings, picture stories, models, photos, videos, or demonstrations to enhance our communication with patients. We encourage all patients to ask questions during appointments.
Discharge procedures We always ask patients for feedback on how effective our communication has been. We review with patients what paperwork, medication, or personal assistive devices (hearing aids, canes, etc.) they will need to bring to their next appointment.
Patient education We teach patients the most common medical jargon and technical vocabulary they will need to know for their illness, disease, or medical procedure/test. We review all of our print materials for medical accuracy at least once a year.
English as an additional language and cultural sensitivity We ask additional language patients whether they prefer to receive printed health information in simplified English or in translation. We ask all patients if there are religious or spiritual beliefs which will guide their health and wellness choices.
How did you do? At your locations, share or discuss with others your answers to the questions. Please make sure the mike at your location is turned off during your discussion so that we can’t all hear each other talking! We’ll come back as a whole group in 10 - 15 minutes so that you can ask questions or make comments. Turn your mike back on then. Because there are so many locations, each location will be able to ask 2 questions or make 2 comments. Sorry, we don’t have time for more.
How can I order a Health Literacy Audit? Go to: www.literacyalberta.ca Click on:‘Shop for Literacy’ on the left menu bar. Download:Order form for ‘Opening Doors.’ Note:The Health Literacy Audit is a supplement to Opening Doors: A Literacy Audit Tool Kit for Customer Service Excellence. Cost:The Health Literacy Audit is $40 for non-profits and $50 for all others.
Have more questions? Call me! Terri Peters (403) 410-6775 firstname.lastname@example.org
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