Maybe nurses and other medical professionals in the Pasadena area and elsewhere have learned the meaning of the term ‘health literacy’ as part of their training, but is this something their clients should know as well, including those receiving 24-hour care? Absolutely!
At its most basic level, health literacy is simply having basic knowledge of wellness and how it applies to your life.
It’s something that everyone at Accredited Home Care has mastered because our clients are counting on all of our people being experts to help them with their health needs.
We not only are proud that our people are fully trained and have various levels of professional certifications, but that they all enjoy helping educate clients about ways to improve their own health and health literacy.
Health literacy isn’t necessarily advanced medical training and fundamentals like you might get in medical school or nursing school, although perhaps both of these areas of academic training could be thought of as advanced or specialized literacy.
At a more basic level, it’s learning to live a better, healthier life.
This type of education is a goal of Health Literacy Month, which encourages clients and medical/nursing professionals including RNs and LVNs to focus on education and learning new and positive habits all month long. It also invites people already in the health industry to look for new and useful ways to better educate patients, clients, professional associates, and their friends and families.
Although just about any month could potentially be declared Health Literacy Month, since there’s never a bad time to learn any of this info, October currently holds this designation.
Why improve your heath?
Each month, Staywell, a provider and health resource, encourages clients to take steps to improve their own literacy. This is seen as a good thing since clients who try to ‘follow along’ and become familiar with what whatever health condition they’re dealing with are generally more prepared, active, responsible and able to deal better with future health changes.
This type of education that can be provided to clients can include hand-outs, basic instruction, suggestions for useful and informative mobile apps or web links, even being available to answer questions anytime.
In comparison, those who lack health literacy or have very low levels may have the opposite effect, costing health care systems as much as $238 billion annually in terms of clients not doing what they’re supposed to or even knowing what this is supposed to be. Often, patients don’t tend to pay attention to health advice that doesn’t make sense to them or isn’t explained well. This can include knowing or remembering how much and how often to take their daily medications.
Although a provider or pharmacist may include these instructions or tell a patient verbally, it’s easy to forget or lose track of details. In some cases, clients may not want to admit that they were a little confused or couldn’t make sense of what they were told, and hearing or vision problems may further complicate this understanding.
That’s why home health care nurses and therapists are an important part of the health literacy discussion.
They can check to make sure clients are doing what they’re supposed to, remind them of any care and recovery instructions, and observe how they’re doing mentally and physically.
If needed, a home health care employee can contact a provider or their office to share any observations or clarify any questions.
Accredited Home Care likes to see certain qualities in our staff, beyond clinical abilities and required certifications. Because we’ve been serving thousands of California residents for so many years, we’ve learned that we, and our clients, like people who are empathetic and helpful, along with people who like to communicate and are good at doing so.
Two-way communication is vital where health literacy is concerned. Clients sometimes need someone to tell them directly what they should be doing and taking, but also willing to make sure they understand.
This may mean more explanation beyond “doctor’s orders.” An LVN or RN might have to describe what happens in their bodies and why they should take certain prescribed medication, for instance, and then what could happen biologically if they don’t.
It’s likely the client also might not have much of a medical background so a nurse might have to make terminology more simple or check throughout the conversation to make sure the person is keeping up.
Some medical experts suggest a ‘teach-back’ approach where the nurse will discuss a certain point and then ask the client to repeat back what they heard, which demonstrates that they understood.
We also like to see our staff look for ways to improve their own health literacy, so they can continue to share updates with clients along with new ways of educating them.
So we encourage our LVNs so always being open to accessing continuing training, whether it’s taking classes or even attending webinars to stay current and hear what other peers are doing to help others. Contact us to learn more about opportunities to join our team!