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

HCA Social Media Review

HCA are reviewing the way we use social media and how to make sure you get the most out of the information we share and so we can gather your feedback and opinions. We want to know what you want to see on our social media and what engages you the most. Social media is a great way to inform and engage with the community and we think we could be using it better! We would really appreciate your feedback.

Please complete our one minute survey here to help us improve our social media engagement. 

You can view our Facebook here and Twitter here

Board Communique March 2019

The March HCASA Board meeting recently confirmed our capacity to continue our work well into 2020. HCASA is here to stay. We had expected to call a Special General Meeting at about this time to ask our members to consider the organisation’s future. After careful consideration of our financial position, our capacity and the importance of our work we are instead scheduling the launch of our new business prospectus. This is planned for Monday 17 June, Save the date.

You will have read in eNews that we have moved our offices upstairs from level 1 to 3 at 12 Pirie Street. Our team continues to do an amazing job building a viable and sustainable business future. You’ll hear more about this on/after 17 June. We would not have been able to consider such an optimistic future without the pragmatic and moral support of our members, partners and supporters. Thank you.


We encourage organisations and individuals who believe in our vision of ‘consumers at the centre of health’ to make sure they have current membership of HCASA. As you know, we are a state-wide, member-based incorporated association with no political affiliations. We provide the information, training and services people, services and policy makers need to ensure consumers have a powerful influence on the health services that they pay for, use and expect to support the health and wellbeing of all South Australians. This work must and will continue.


Debra Kay PSM
Board Chair HCASA
On behalf of the HCASA Board and Staff Team

New Code, laws and website for the HCSCC

There have been some changes at the Health and Community Service Complaints Commissioner (HCSCC). On 18 March 2019, South Australia implemented the Code of Conduct for Certain Health Care Workers which replaced the Code of Conduct for Unregistered Health Practitioners. This change aligns South Australia with the National Code of Conduct for Health Care Workers approved by the COAG Health Council. Unregistered health care workers who do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) will have to comply with the code and display certain information where they practise.

The code establishes:

• A range of minimum standards for unregistered health care workers.
• Additional powers to the HCSCC if an unregistered health care worker is found to have breached the Code.

Law changes also came into effect that allow the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner to:

• Adopt prohibition orders imposed on individuals from across Australia.
• Investigate individual volunteers providing a health service.
• Restrict people who are subject to a prohibition order from advertising and promoting themselves as a health service.
• Issue a public statement to identify a person or warn the public when interim action has been taken.

To read the HCSCC’s news release, click here. To read more about the code of conduct, click here.

You’ll also notice that the HCSCC has a new website, which the Health Consumer’s Alliance was consulted on. The new website is easier to navigate, provides clearer information and is consumer tested. Go check it out!

And remember you can like the HCSCC on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. If you would like to receive their newsletter, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cancer Voices Annual Report

Cancer Voices SA - Raising a Voice for People Affected by Cancer Annual Report 2018.

Cancer Voices Annual Report 2018

HCA Training 2019

In 2019 HCA will work with consumers, partner agencies and other stakeholders to develop more focused training modules for consumers on topics such as:

One of the changes of not having a core funding base is that we will now be charging for our training, including consumer training. Fees will be kept as low as possible, and opportunities for subsidised training will be made available to consumers who do not have the capacity to pay.

Back to eNews here


View all latest news


Latest eNews

Events

The Bleeding Edge Screening

The Bleeding Edge Screening

When: Wednesday 1 May 2019 1.30pm to 4.30pm
Where
: The Science Exchange, 55 Exchange Place, Adelaide

HCA are proud to host a screening of the award winning documentary, The Bleeding Edge.
The film looks at the $400 billion medical device industry and the profit-driven mind-set that rushes implanted devices into the marketplace without proper clinical trials. The screening will be followed by a panel and question and answer session. Afternoon tea will also be provided.

You can register for the event here

2019 Choosing Wisely Australia National Meeting

Thursday 30 May 2019

Melbourne

The 2019 annual Choosing Wisely National Meeting will bring together policy makers, consumers and other health care stakeholders for an interactive discussion on the opportunities, challenges, and highlights of the Choosing Wisely initiative as it continues to grow. Early bird registration is open until Thursday 18 April.

Find out more and register here. 

Health & Community Services Complaints Commissioner Website Focus Group

Wednesday 30 January 2019

10am – 12pm
HCA Adelaide

HCA is hosting a focus group for the South Australian Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner (HCSCC). The focus group aims to gain consumer feedback on their current website to ensure it is user-friendly.

You can find out more and register here. 

Back to eNews here. 

2019 Choosing Wisely Australia National Meeting

Thursday 30 May 2019
Melbourne

The annual 2019 Choosing Wisely National Meeting will bring together policymakers, consumers and other health care stakeholders for an interactive discussion on the opportunities, challenges, and highlights of the choosing wisely initiative as it continues to grow. Early bird registration is open until Thursday 18 April. You can find out more about the meeting and the Choosing Wisely initiative here.


View all events

HCA on Facebook

HCA on Facebook

HCA on Facebook

nothing about us without us