“Health Literacy has been defined as the cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health. Health Literacy means more than being able to read pamphlets and successfully make appointments. By improving people's access to health information and their capacity to use it effectively, health literacy is critical to empowerment.”World Health Organization.


HCCA has more than thirty years of experience in increasing consumer access to information about the health system. With the increasing complexity of our health system, it has become even more important for consumers to have access to opportunities to develop their knowledge of the health system. It is also important that these opportunities are ‘consumer-led’, that is, that they provide access to information that consumers themselves have said they need to know.

 

Our Health Literacy Program provides assistance to a broad range of people in the community including those people living with disadvantage. Through our Health Literacy Program we promote consumer participation in the health system by providing opportunities for consumers to improve their knowledge of support, community and health services. We work to increase consumers’ ability to advocate for themselves and family in health contexts. This involved helping consumers to identify their own needs so that they would be able to interact more effectively with health professionals.


As stated as in Goal 3 of HCCA’s Strategic Plan 2014-2017, HCCA commits to achieving: High levels of health literacy in the Canberra Community.


We do this through, continuing to identify health literacy needs in our community, and working with health services to develop resources to meet consumer needs. Health Literacy is a focus throughout all of our activities including Consumer representative Program, policy work, communications, including social media and the important work of our Multicultural Liaison Officer (Yelin Hung). It also includes our community awareness program on Advanced Care Planning.

 

Health Literacy for All!

 

This work was completed as part of the consumer-led Health Literacy for All project that ran from June 2011 to June 2014. This project was an initiative of the Health Care Consumers Association (HCCA) of the ACT and was funded by a Health Promotion grant from the ACT Government.

 

HCCA has more than thirty years of experience in increasing consumer access to information about the health system. With the increasing complexity of our health system, it has become even more important for consumers to have access to opportunities to develop their knowledge of the health system. It is also important that these opportunities are ‘consumer-led’, that is, that they provide access to information that consumers themselves have said they need to know.

 

The Health Literacy for All project was designed around a community development model. The program particularly sought to provide assistance to disadvantaged and marginalised health consumers. It sought to promote consumer participation in the health system by providing opportunities for consumers to improve their knowledge of support, community and health services. It also sought to increase consumers’ ability to advocate for themselves and family in health contexts. This involved helping consumers to identify their own needs so that they would be able to interact more effectively with health professionals.

 

Several health related modules were developed based on consumer requests, and the content of the modules was developed in consultation with consumers who participated in health literacy workshops. More than 250 consumers and 170 health care professionals participated in 40 workshops over a three-year period.

 

Health Literacy Position Statement - PDF
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