Phone: 08 8231 4169 | Email: info@hcasa.asn.au | Find HCASA on FacebookFollow HCASA on Twitter

Phone: 08 8231 4169
Email: info@hcasa.asn.au
Find HCASA on FacebookFollow HCASA on Twitter

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Consumers at the centre of health
in South Australia

An introduction to health literacy

At Health Consumers Alliance of SA Inc (HCA), we believe that health literacy is a fundamentally important component of safe and high quality health care. As part of our vision – Consumers at the centre of health in South Australia - we seek to promote and support the individual health literacy of consumers, as well as the health literacy environment of service providers.

The information on health literacy below is largely sourced from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care1. It works in partnership with patients, consumers, clinicians, managers, policy makers and healthcare organisations to achieve a sustainable, safe and high-quality health system.


What is health literacy?

Your health literacy is much more than your ability to read, write, communicate and seek health information. It is a safety and quality issue for everyone who uses and works in the health system.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) separates health literacy into two components:
1. Individual health literacy – is the skills, knowledge, motivation and capacity of a person to access, understand, appraise and apply information to make effective decisions about health and health care and take appropriate action.

2. Health literacy environment – is the infrastructure, policies, processes, materials, people and relationships that make up the health system, and have an impact on the way that people access, understand, appraise and apply health-related information and services.


Why is health literacy important?

The Commission’s National Statement on Health Literacy states that health literacy plays an important role in enabling effective partnerships between consumers and service providers.

For partnerships to work, everyone involved needs to be able to give and receive, interpret and act on information such as treatment options and plans.

Having consumers who are partners in the processes of health and health care is necessary for safe and high quality care. This also plays an important role in reducing health inequality.


How can individual health literacy impact on you?

Health literacy is important to your health and wellbeing, and to the safety and quality of your health care.

Your ability to access, understand, appraise and apply information impacts on your health and wellbeing.
• Access refers to your ability to seek, find and obtain health information.
• Understand refers to your ability to comprehend the health information that you access.
• Appraise describes your ability to interpret, filter, judge and evaluate the health information that you access.
• Apply refers to your ability to communicate and use the information to make decisions to maintain and improve your health.2

Your expectations and previous experiences, the quality of information provided, and the relationship with your health service provider all play a role too.

Only about 40% of adults have the level of individual health literacy they need to be able to make well-informed decisions and take action about their health. Some of the impacts of low health literacy can include:
• difficulty understanding health information
• not taking medications correctly
• poorer knowledge of health conditions
• less use of preventive health services, like screening or vaccinations
• more visits to hospital
• poorer health status.1

Your health literacy is not fixed in every situation. It can change depending on several factors, like how well you feel, how much stress you are under, and how tired you are.

For more information, have a look at the Commission’s document, Health Literacy: A summary for Consumers.


Why does the health literacy environment matter?

The health literacy environment can either help or hinder your individual health literacy, and your health outcomes.

The Commission describes the health literacy environment as being all around you. It is how you get information about health, where you get it and who you get it from. For example, it includes health product packaging and design, information hospitals send you in preparation for procedures, medication information provided by your health practitioner or information provided by your health insurer.

It also includes the health services you use, how they are organised, how complicated they are, and how much they support you to make the best health decisions for you. Examples of this include how well signs and instructions are displayed in a hospital; how you are provided with information about referrals; the type of steps you need to take to make a medical appointment; how you claim your Medicare refund, and the support you are provided with to maintain your health care plan.

The health literacy environment can be hard to understand – different professions often speak in jargon; people make assumptions about what you already know; and healthcare processes vary between health practitioners and health services.

Through accreditation processes and support from organisations like the Commission, and NPS Medicine Wise healthcare services are increasingly looking at ways to improve their health literacy environment – to make their information, systems and processes easier to understand and use.

1. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care – Health Literacy page.

2. Sørensen et al. Health literacy and public health: A systematic review and integration of definitions and models. BMC Public Health 2012, 12:80.

Latest news

Your views will help shape HCA’s advocacy and election priorities

At Health Consumers Alliance of SA Inc (HCA), we work with our members and supporters to achieve our vision: Consumers at the centre of health in South Australia.

In the lead-up to the state election, we are seeking consumer and community views to help shape our advocacy and election priorities.

We invite you to tell us what matters to you. As a guide, we have listed some questions below that you may wish to consider.

Please can you provide your views by Wednesday 1 November 2017, via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or post to HCA, PO Box 2248, Adelaide, SA, 5001.

Questions:
1. What should health services do more of for South Australians?

2. What should health services stop doing for South Australians?

3. Are there issues that HCA should influence more?

4. Are there priority groups of South Australians that HCA could be helping more?

Thank you for sharing your views, and for helping us to promote and strengthen the voices, wellbeing, rights and leadership of health consumers.

Asthma SA resources

 Asthma SA has recently launched a range of asthma-related resources for community members from Arabic, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Dinka & Nepali speaking backgrounds.The resources reflect the different information needs of these community language groups with varying levels of health literacy in relation to asthma basic facts, key daily asthma management, & asthma first aid. You can access the resources here

 

Medical Record and Date-Driven Healthcare

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare and Independent Hospital Pricing Authority have developed an animation about medical records and date-driven Healthcare. The animation was created in consultation with clinical stakeholders and aims to raise awareness among clinicians of what clinical coding is, and how the medical record is used in this context. You can watch the video

 

Forum report on the draft Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care Amendment Bill

HCA hosted a forum on the draft Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care Amendment Bill on Thursday 21 September 2017. The objective of the forum was to gain consumer feedback on the draft bill. The report outlining the main themes and recommendations emerging from the forum is available below. 

Consent Forum Report

2017 HCA Members Forum Summary Report

HCA held the 2017 HCA Members Forum on Monday 25 September 2017, from 3.00 to 5.00pm. Seventeen members attended. The purpose of the forum was to provide an opportunity for HCA members to identify the priorities for HCA’s advocacy and 2017/18 state election platforms.

Eight priority issues emerged:
1. The consumer/health system interface
2. Rural and remote health
3. Service improvement through the consumer voice
4. Aged care and older people, and health care homes
5. Social determinants of health - the needs and health care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and high incarceration rates, were highlighted at the conclusion of the forum. So too was the need to change the culture of the workplace to ensure a consumer focus. There was also an acknowledgement of racism in health care.
6. Consumer and carer escalation of care
7. Medication management first response and polypharmacy
8. Access and navigation of the health system, including E-Health and information technology access.

You can find the Forum Summary Report below.

2017 HCA Members Forum Summary Report


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Events

Ageing Well Conference

Wednesday 22 – Thursday 23 November 2017

The Ageing Well Conference will highlight the leading transformational global trends and bring together international experts to explore the business innovation and social innovation opportunities. At the heart of the design and thinking is ensuring people in their 60’s and beyond have better choices that bring their life greater purpose and meaning, and more control in determining the choices available to them as they transition through life’s course. You can find out more and register here. 

Consumer forum on the SA Health Community Power Dependency Project

Wednesday 15 November
1.00 - 3.30pm

Following the state-wide power outage in September 2016, SA Health has developed an emergency plan to manage the impacts of an extended power outage. HCA is hosting a forum to seek consumer advice on the SA Health Community Power Dependency Project. The forum objectives are to give consumers the opportunity to review the proposed Power Dependency Strategy and messaging, and provide feedback on what to do to prepare for and manage an outage. You can find out more and register here. 

National Carers Week 2017

Sunday 15 October – Saturday 21 October 2017

This week is National Carers Week, a time to recognise and celebrate the outstanding contribution that Australia’s 2.7 million unpaid carers make to our nation. There are many ways to engage with the campaign this year, you can find out more on the website here. You can publicly pledge your thanks to Australia’s unpaid carers and let them know how much they count here.

Adelaide Mitcham Prostate support meeting

Thursday 26 October 2017

7pm - 8.45pm

The Adelaide Mitcham Prostate support meeting will provide an overview of prostate disease. The guest speaker is Dr Richard Wells, who is a urologist. You can view the event flyer to find out more here. 

Cancer Voices Challenge Bike Ride

Sunday 22 October 2017

Cancer Voices Challenge Bike Ride is on this Sunday, starting at 8am from Kensington Gardens reserve, Norwood Parade between Glynburn & Penfolds Rd. Ride into the beautiful Adelaide Hills with 20, 35 or 67km distance options. Cost of entry-wear yellow! You can find out more and register here. 


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