NHS libraries supporting healthcare professionals in shared decision making

Healthcare libraries have a different role to public libraries. Whilst they do hold books on healthcare topics to support staff professional development, they also provide valuable support to staff in their day-to-day work with patients.

NHS librarians may be asked by health professionals to look for evidence that a treatment they are considering for a patient has been shown to be effective. This evidence may be summarised by the librarian to save the clinician time. This information helps the clinician to discuss treatment options with the patient and come to a joint decision on the way forward.

Library staff also promote online tools to help healthcare staff make decisions quickly and keep them up to date with new information in their specialist area. Ayrshire & Arran includes GP practices in remote and rural areas and librarians ensure that staff in these areas know of and are trained in the use of these online tools.

As health and social care becomes increasingly integrated, we now offer our services to local authority social care staff too. This helps to ensure that the care of everyone in Ayrshire & Arran is based on best practice. As we say to our healthcare colleagues, “We save you time so you can save lives”.

To find out more about the work NHS library staff do and view case studies, visit https://www.cilips.org.uk/advocacy-campaigns/campaigns/the-right-decision/

Health Literacy

The Health Improvement Team in NHS Ayrshire & Arran is working to address health literacy in a number of ways, including face-to-face training and online learning. Health literacy training has been delivered to colleagues in the acute hospital setting, primary care, pharmacies, prison staff at HMP Kilmarnock and Community Learning and Development. There are plans to speak to staff in community pharmacies, and children and young people via schools and library services. This forms part of an overall plan in Ayrshire between NHS and Health and Social Care partners to address low health literacy and take steps to improve it. It is hoped that this will address some of the priorities set out in the national Health Literacy Action Plan.

An online e-learning module, the Link Between Health Literacy and Health Inequalities, has been developed in partnership with NHS Health Scotland and encourages both frontline and managerial staff to think about health literacy when designing and delivering services, especially when working with groups who may be at risk of low health literacy. This builds on the e-learning module Health Literacy Tools and Techniques developed by NHS Education for Scotland, which is available on The Health Literacy Place website. A summary of the health literacy work taking place in Ayrshire and Arran can be found here Health Literacy Information.