Facilitate health literacy Types of library service

Promoting health literacy among patients and the public can have a long term improvement on their health and well-being.

A library professional leading an exercise
Let's talk about the importance of health literacy

Tips for improving literacy  

Here’s how to encourage reading for staff and patients: 

Keep a collection of books. These could be donations, lending from public library, or book vending machine. 

Promote the 6 book challenge from Reading Ahead, quick reads, and mood boosting books.  

Reading groups or book clubs organised jointly by Library Service and Occupational Therapy Team. Offer a blog to talk to those who cannot make meetings.

Here’s how to make reading material easily accessible: 

Display poetry chosen by staff on the wall. 

Arrange with the local council to have the mobile library service visit NHS sites, including staff locations. 

Book box delivery service for staff on wards.  

Trolleys with the Reading Well Books and Mood Boosting collections taken around the wards.

Put books in ward relaxation rooms for informal borrowing. 

Find some tips for literacy and research training here:  

Offer literacy training sessions for patients using the teach back method to check understanding.

Offer Information around Health Literacy E-learning.

Run training in search techniques for service users. 

Non-urgent advice: Information

Don’t forget to provide materials for Recovery College (where mental health patients are students).  

Case study

 Providing sessions to patients on safe health information websites. 

As part of the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative, library staff at Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust attend well-being sessions held at community venues.

They engage with patients, their families and carers. Encouraging them to access websites which display quality standards, such as the Information Standard, for their health information.

They also give simple website appraisal advice using the mnemonic WWW (who, what and where).

 As well as a display, there is a leaflet for patients. This leaflet has now been adopted by the Trust as a core part of every patient information stand. 

These sessions have also been requested by healthcare staff in other areas for their patient support groups.

Other health literacy resources

National Literacy Trust

The Health Literacy Place – NHS Education for Scotland have case studies, tools, training and resources.

Information literacy in the Health Sector

Read for Good

Page last reviewed: 15 June 2021