Health literacy competencies staff should have
The following is a list of health literacy competencies for staff created by Sandra Cornett, RN, PhD, director AHEC Clear Health Communication Program Office of Outreach & Engagement, The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, OH.
A. Creating a Shame-Free, Patient-Centered Environment
Be helpful, respectful, caring, and sensitive to a person's feelings.
Help prepare the person for the appointment or hospital stay by offering suggestions on how to be an active partner in his or her care.
Pay attention to a person's non-verbal behaviors and your body language when communicating.
Offer help, in a confidential manner, to complete forms, make referral appointments, and provide directions.
Protect the person from embarrassment by providing privacy when giving information
Be non-judgmental and empathetic.
Actively listen and encourage questions and/or address concerns.
B. Assessing for Low Health Literacy Skills
Assess patients' level of health literacy by observing behaviors/characteristics for clues and asking appropriate questions to help determine if low health literacy skills are an issue.
C. Planning for Giving Health Information
Create an environment for learning.
Note any special needs, such as difficulty hearing or seeing, and plan to adapt teaching methods to meet these needs.
Set priorities for health teaching – do not overwhelm by giving too much information at one time.
Determine what key points in the health message to give.
Select appropriate methods to use in giving instructions/health education.
Select appropriate teaching tools and materials to supplement verbal instruction.
Organize instruction by framing the message.
D. Implementing Clear Health Communication Skills
Sit rather than stand.
Speak slowly, in normal tones, and articulate clearly.
Use everyday language with no medical jargon; explain health terms.
Choose words carefully and be consistent in use of terms.
Focus on person's actions or behaviors for desired outcome.
Teach practical information and give specific instructions; use examples and analogies relevant to person.
Provide easy-to-read written materials in plain language at or below 8th grade reading level to reinforce the information; show pictures.
Include an interaction for each key point.
Give feedback at intervals to assist in retention of information.
E. Evaluating Patients' Understanding
Use teach-back or show-me method to verify understanding.
Ask specific, open-ended questions to see if person can apply the information to "real-world" examples.
If a skill is taught, ask person to return and demonstrate, and how to solve or trouble shoot any problems.