Whanganui health professionals invited to health literacy presentation

12 September 2017


Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) has invited Health Literacy NZ director Susan Reid (Te Rarawa) to Whanganui on 20 September.


Ms Reid will talk to WDHB staff and health professionals about the importance of communicating clearly and building the skills and knowledge of their patients to better understand and manage their health.


WDHB project manager Eileen O’Leary says Ms Reid’s ‘grass-roots’, honest and entertaining style of presenting carries powerful messages for doctors, nurses and others working in health about why it’s important to make sure patients never leave their appointments feeling confused or at worst, unaware of what they need to do to improve their health outcomes.


“We know many Whanganui doctors and nurses are very good at explaining things to their patients and we want to build on that. We are also aware international and national research shows that for a variety of reasons, patients often leave medical appointments not understanding fully, what their doctor, nurse or other health professional was saying to them,” Ms O’Leary says.


“People working in health sometimes use language that’s unfamiliar to their patients who in turn feel embarrassed to ask questions or are too stressed to think about what else they need to know before leaving their appointment.


“NZ Health Literacy promotes the use of language that patients understand, while also encouraging doctors, nurses and others to ask their patients what they already know about their condition and review how clear they have been when providing new information. This is vital if we want patients to do what’s needed to make them well or manage their health needs in the best way possible.”


Ms O’Leary says Ms Reid uses many examples of miscommunication affecting health care such as the nurse who spent 25 minutes talking to a patient about his pancreatic condition before realising, when the patient asked what a pancreas was, that she hadn’t started by finding out what the patient already knew and needed. In another case, a patient was referred to the practice nurse by his GP but the patient said he didn’t want to waste his time seeing a trainee nurse who would be ‘practicing’ on him.


Ms Reid will present to WDHB staff during the day and to the wider health sector in a free evening session. Doors will open at 5.30pm with the talk beginning at 6pm in The Arena, Victoria House on the corner of Rutland and Drews Avenue – entrance 30 Drews Avenue Whanganui.


The key points that Ms Reid makes to her audiences are:

  1. Find out what people know.
  2. Build people’s health literacy (knowledge and skills) to meet their needs.
  3. Check you were clear – that your patient understands what you told them.


To find out more about health literacy and Ms Reid, go to www.healthliteracy.co.nz/page/who-we-are


To secure a place at the evening session, please email lanee.wondergem@wdhb.org.nz or phone 06 348 3216.