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

hca logo

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

New model of governance and accountability in the public health system

The South Australian Government is introducing a new model of governance and accountability in the public health system. A cornerstone of the new model will be the introduction of governing boards for Local Health Networks. There will be ten governing boards in South Australia, one for each of the four current Local Health Networks (three metropolitan and one state-wide), and six governing boards covering the six new Local Health Networks in Country Health SA. Hon Stephen Wade MLC has asked HCA to provide feedback on the Health Care (Governance) Amendment Bill 2018, as changes to legislation are required to implement the board governance structure.

The South Australian public health system will commence its transition to board governance with the appointment of board Chairs by 31 July 2018. You can find more information on the application process here. This is the first step in developing a robust, sustainable board governance model. Governing board member appointments will occur later in 2018, followed by training and induction in anticipation of boards being fully operational from 1 July 2019. You can view the Health Care (Governance) Amendment Bill 2018 and the second reading below. If you have any feedback on the amendment bill that you would like HCA to consider for inclusion in our submission, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Health Governance Amendment Bill 2018 UN (003)

Second Reading Health Care Governance Amendment Bill 2018 (003)

A new report is calling for an expansion of specialist targeted services for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG) in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Ageing Advisory Group (ATSIAAG) have released a report: Assuring equity of access and quality outcomes for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: What needs to be done. The report summarises the proceedings and outcomes of the 5th National Workshop of the AAG and ATSIAAG, held in Perth on 7 November 2017. The workshop aimed to address the apparent inequities of access and outcomes for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples under the current aged care reform program, and suggest directions for the future. You can download the full report here.

HCA Forum: Summary Framework for the State Public Health Plan 2019 - 2024

Health Consumers Alliance of SA Inc (HCA) held a consumer forum, Summary Framework for the State Public Health Plan 2019 - 2024, on Tuesday 29 May 2018. The objectives of the forum were to provide consumers the opportunity to:

1. learn more about the draft Plan and the role of public health
2. share their views about what a healthier South Australia looks like to them
3. help shape the development of the draft State Public Health Plan, which will set the direction for public health and wellbeing in South Australia over the next five years.

The event report can be found below. 

The draft State Public Health Plan 2019 – 2024 is available for download here.

Public Health Forum Report

ROSA Stage 1 Historical Cohort Report

The Registry of Older South Australians (ROSA) is the product of the Health Ageing Research Consortium, which is a cross sectoral partnership of researchers, consumers, aged care providers and consumer advocacy groups. HCA is a consortium partner and co-chair of the consumer engagement group. ROSA is a unique data resource that will support evidence-driven decision-making to improve the lives of all South Australians accessing aged care service. ROSA was designed to monitor the health, service utilisation, medication use, mortality and other outcomes of people receiving aged care services in South Australia. You can view the first ROSA report below. 

ROSA Report 1

Engaging consumers in their health data journey

Consumers Health Forum (CHF) in partnership with NPS MedicineWise have jointly published a comprehensive report on engaging consumers in their health data journey. The report was generated through qualitative interviews, literature reviews, a round table discussion with key stakeholders and consumer representatives, and a nationally representative survey of 1,013 Australians.The overall results indicate that Australians want control over their health data and information. You can find out more here.


View all latest news


Latest eNews

Events

Public Reporting Consumer & Community Forum

Thursday 5 July 2018

9.00am – 12.00pm
Level 1/12 Pirie Street, Adelaide

This forum is seeking input from consumers and carers not engaged with Local Health Networks. The purpose of this forum is to discuss principles of public reporting of health data, what data should be available, and how it should be reported. Morning tea will be provided. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone: (08) 8226 2567 to find out more.

11th Australian Viral Hepatitis Conference

Monday 13 – Wednesday 15 August 2018

Adelaide

The 11th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference will be hosted at the Adelaide Convention Centre this year with the theme ‘No one left behind’. The conference is inspired by the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development and its focus on inclusion and health for all. The program will showcase and critically examine ways to effectively reach everyone living with viral hepatitis, while being inclusive of their experiences and concerns. There will be presentations on the latest research and an opportunity to network with peers. You can find out more and register here.

National Suicide Prevention Conference 2018

Monday 23 – Thursday 26 July 2018

Adelaide

The 2018 National Suicide Prevention Conference will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre. The focus of the conference will centre around quality - in research, practice and speaking about lived experience. The program has been designed to to focus on quality as the foundation to enhance implementation of suicide prevention at the community level. You can find out more here.

The Mental Health Services Conference

Tuesday 28 – Friday 31 August 2018
Adelaide

Early bird registrations are open for the Mental Health Services (TheMHS) Conference. The Conference aims to provide a platform for debate that challenges present knowledge and ideas about mental health care and current mental health systems across Australia and New Zealand. There will be presentations from both public and private sectors of the mental health community. The theme of the conference promotes collaborative research, practice, policy-making and education. You can view the conference brochure here and register to attend here.

Australian Psychosis Conference

Friday 14 - Sunday 16 September 2018

Sydney

The Australian Psychosis Conference will bring together researchers, clinicians, consumers and carers, with an interest in best outcomes for people with psychotic illness. The conference will have parallel streams, covering the latest research, discussions on best practice and treatment, and debate on how to encourage recovery. You can find out more here.


View all events

HCA on Facebook

HCA on Facebook

HCA on Facebook

nothing about us without us