Health literacy is key to genuine choice in aged care

Health literacy is key to genuine choice in aged care

Six out of ten Australians have low health literacy, which negatively affects their ability to access and understand medical information as well as services available to them – abilities that are important in ensuring people are empowered to take advantage of increased choice and control in the consumer-directed care environment.

As an organisation, Bolton Clarke is committed to taking practical steps to improve health literacy among our clients and the broader community. This is demonstrated in the work of our dedicated Diversity Team who provide leadership, expert advice and support on issues relating to diversity and inclusion, and to the development of resources including our talking books in plain English and community languages.

That’s why on Drop the Jargon Day (24 October), we’re pledging to ‘drop the jargon’ and promote health literacy by helping individuals understand and use information to make informed decisions on matters affecting their health and wellbeing.

Bolton Clarke health

Bolton Clarke Diversity Manager, Jaklina Michael said treating people as individuals was at the core of successful health literacy initiatives.

“The key is to assess the communication needs of each individual customer so we can respond with appropriate and respectful plain language,” she said.

“We encourage employees to break down their medical explanations to customers into simple, easy to understand sentences using a range of techniques.

“People who work in the medical and health care industry can often inadvertently use ‘jargon’ when speaking with their clients and patients.

“The use of these technical terms and acronyms contributes to low health literacy – especially in older demographics who may not immediately turn to the technology of Google for the answer.”

Jaklina has provided some simple steps for health professionals to minimise jargon.

  1. Speak clearly to your customer and make your explanation easy to understand
  2. Where possible use examples, show the customer on their own body or draw a picture
  3. Ask the customer if they understand what you have just said
  4. If you are still unsure if they understand, have them repeat it back to you
  5. Give them clear instructions and even write down what their actions or instructions are.

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