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Health Literacy: Knowledge is Power

Baycrest has embarked on an exciting new project to improve the health literacy of patients and families.

Through this project, healthcare information on optimizing the health and well-being of older adults is being made available on a brain health and aging web portal, throughout the Baycrest campus and via additional training for staff to ensure patients and families understand various factors affecting their health.

“Low levels of health literacy are emerging as a public health silent epidemic. We know we can address this problem because research has shown that providing patients with the right information in the right way at the right time can lead to better patient outcomes,” says Dr. David Conn, Vice President, Education, at Baycrest. “Our Patient, Family and Consumer Education program will make a real difference.”

Hundreds of Baycrest staff have already received training in “teach-back,” a communication confirmation method to ensure patient and family understanding of health information. The Patient, Family and Consumer Education program has also developed an eLearning suite of three modules on plain language, “teach-back” and how to find reliable resources on the Internet.

Various materials, including a Health Literacy Roadmap, were created with input from the Baycrest Client and Family Partners, a group made up of older adults, relatives of clients, and members of the community

“It’s all about integration and engagement of people with the information so they can self-manage and be partners in care,” adds Dr. Conn.

The groundbreaking initiative, while still in its early stages, has been recognized internationally for its outstanding achievements in health literacy by the 19th Annual Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA) Health Literacy Award. It has also been recognized by the Health Standards Organization with a Leading Practice designation for Baycrest.

Noorin Kassam, a Quality, Transformation and Performance Improvement consultant at Baycrest, has seen first-hand the systematic changes that health literacy can inspire.

  • Baycrest is in the midst of an important and potentially transformative shift related to patients’ roles in health care and truly ensuring they are active partners in their care,” says Kassam.
The project has received support from generous donors. With additional funding, it will continue to address the growing need for reliable health and wellness information on brain health and aging.
 
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