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

Farewell Ellen Kerrins

Last week HCA farewelled our Manager, Policy and Advocacy, Ellen Kerrins. Ellen has worked for HCA since 2015, during which time she played a central role in a number of significant areas of work for South Australian consumers. We thank Ellen for her contribution and work to ensure that consumers are at the centre of health in South Australia. Ellen's vibrant personality will be missed around our office, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

Nominations to the HCA Board

Closes: Monday 22 October 5.00pm


We are calling for nominations for the HCA Board of Directors. Nominations are sought in accordance with the HCA Constitution, a copy of which is available  here. 
Five director vacancies exist: three ordinary directors, and the positions of chair, and deputy chair. You may select to nominate for more than one position. Directors are appointed for two years. Meetings are held bi-monthly, currently scheduled on Mondays 4-6pm at HCA.

You can complete your nomination online here.

You can download a nomination form here.

Please note: Information provided by candidates will be used in the Board election papers sent to members prior to the AGM.

If you would like more information about the election process and the expectations of Board directors, please don’t hesitate to contact me via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . You can view the HCA Board Code of Conduct policy here.

Note: You must be a financial member to nominate and be nominated, information about membership here

Sorry is a good first step

HCA in collaboration with the Nation's state’/territory peak health consumer organisations have released a joint media statement in response to the Government’s response to the Senate inquiry into trans vaginal mesh and Minister Greg Hunts apology to women affected by trans vaginal mesh implants. You can view the release below.

 Mesh media release October 2018

Drop the Jargon Day

Drop the Jargon day will be held next Tuesday 23 October. It is a day to encourage professionals in Australian health, community services and local government to use plain language. When we use jargon, technical terms or acronyms, it is hard for people with low health literacy to understand and use information. Professionals can pledge and take part in activities at their workplace, to make it easier for people with low health literacy to get better information and outcomes from the services they use. You can find out more here.

EveryAGE Counts : Anti-ageism campaign

The EveryAGE Counts campaign and strategy is guided by a large body of existing evidence about the extent and impacts of ageism, as well as research commissioned into the attitudinal and behavioural drivers behind ageism, and effective ways to address these. Ageism is not benign or harmless. It is a big problem because it impacts on confidence, quality of life, job prospects, health, and control over life decisions. As a community, we can positively change thinking about ageing,
re-imagine getting older and set the foundations for current and future generations to age well. You can find out more about how you can make a difference here.


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Events

Conflicts of Interest workshop

Thursday 6 December 2018
9.00am – 1.00pm
Level 1/12 Pirie Street Adelaide

HCA is hosting a free workshop for health consumer or carer representatives, or advocates with an interest in learning about conflicts of interest in health care.
 
The workshop will be run by two internationally respected academics with expertise in this area, Professor Lisa Bero from the University of Sydney, and Dr Ray Moynihan, from Bond University.
The following will be covered (using plain English):

- Introduction to the scientific evidence about how sponsorship from drug companies and other industry groups affects medical education and research
- Introduction to accessible databases that can be searched to find out more about drug company payments to doctors and patient groups

This will be followed by a facilitated discussion about conflicts of interest.

Morning tea and a light lunch will be provided. The workshop will be evaluated and information relating to this will be sent via email to participants in the week prior to the workshop.
Contact HCA on 82314169 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information or to discuss support for transport.
Expressions of Interest (EOI) Close Thursday 22 November 2018.

You can register your EOI here.

Health Strategy 2019-2023 Workshop

Tuesday 6 November 2018
2.00 – 5.00pm
Adelaide

SA Health is seeking 20 consumers to attend their Health Strategy 2019 – 2023 workshop. The Health Strategy will specifically focus on South Australia’s health priorities for the next five years, but also look to adopt a longer term perspective to 2030.
The objective of this workshop is to seek your views on:

• How can future advances in health care delivery be utilised to help to address health system challenges?
• New directions in the culture of care - what alternative care / treatment options are available based on the needs of the patient?
The workshop will close at 5:00pm followed by an opportunity for networking along with light refreshments. Registrations are essential.

You can view the workshop flyer for more information below. 

You can register to attend here.

Strategy Workshop Flyer

Our Lives - Stories of Resilience

Wednesday 21 November 2018
6.00pm – 7.00pm
Adelaide

This event hosted by SAMESH will follow via film clip the lives of three local people living with HIV, as they navigate the changes to HIV treatment, prevention, and the law. The clips will be followed by a panel discussion with those featured, to discuss what it means to be a person living with HIV in 2018, and why it is more important than ever that HIV positive people are central to the HIV response. You can find out more and register here.

Building the Aboriginal Disability Service Sector Workshop

Friday 16 November
8.30am – 5.00pm
Adelaide

The First People's Disability Network Australia is hosting a workshop on building the Aboriginal Disability Services sector. The session will cover a wide range of topics focused on challenges and opportunities in building this service sector, and promoting job opportunities amongst the sector. This workshop is targeted to Aboriginal disability service providers, and Aboriginal people interested in employment opportunities and being a provider in the disability service sector. You can find out more and register here.

LASA National Congress

Sunday 28 – Tuesday 30 October 2018
Adelaide

Leading Age Services Australia’s (LASA) National Congress 2018 will lead the conversation on ageing transformed and the dawn of a new era in aged care. The congress is the largest aged services industry event in the Asia Pacific. There will be a series of interactive discussions which aim to shine that ‘first light’ on the ageing transformed terrain of new era thinking, and practices and models of aged services for the next generation and beyond. You can find out more and register here.


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