Express Outreach Award Highlights: Leveraging Health Literacy and Community Health Resources to Improve Senior Care in Nevada
Posted by Alan Carr on July 3rd, 2018
Posted in: Consumer Health, Funding, Outreach, Public Health
by Terry Henner
Head of Outreach Services
Savitt Medical Library
University of Nevada, Reno, School of Medicine
Information about Benadryl and other products containing diphenhydramine listing their possible side effects, how the body processes the drug, sleep hygiene habits & alternatives to diphenhydramine.
The physical, emotional, and financial burden on family caregivers is an increasingly prevalent and important health concern in the United States. Eighty percent of adults requiring long-term care currently live at home or in the community, with 90% of their care provided by unpaid family caregivers. With funding from the NNLM Pacific Southwest Region’s Express Outreach Award program, the University of Nevada, Reno, School of Medicine Savitt Medical Library, initiated a community outreach program to improve access to information for lay and professional caregivers. One aim of the project was to enhance content in a web-enabled clearinghouse of community and regional health and social services. There was also recognition by our project partners of a need to improve access to quality discharge planning materials utilized by the community of professional case managers, and to encourage best practices in accordance with health literacy standards. Working with hospital care managers the project team helped to identify, index, and organize over 800 locally developed documents used in the process of discharge planning. A subset of the document texts were evaluated through automated health literacy algorithms to assess reading level and appropriateness for patients. Results indicated that the majority of patient education materials were written at an 11th grade or higher reading level. After interviewing professionals working in case management and patient care, several key areas related to health issues and well-being of seniors were identified, including abuse of Benadryl as a sleep aid, driving safety, and calcium needs for seniors for bone health. Text-heavy existing documents were redesigned to create abbreviated infographics that were more easily read and comprehended by patients or family caregivers. Project outcomes should result in a more prepared and confident patient population upon discharge from hospitals and a community of professional caregivers better able to identify key community resources for patient referral.
As with many projects that require coordination of effort between multiple organizations, the course of our progress was occasionally stalled because of schedule conflicts and competing priorities. Because aspects of the project relied heavily on student labor, other challenges included recruitment of students who possessed not just appropriate skills backgrounds, but also schedule availability, access to transportation, and levels of commitment to completing project goals.
Sustainability of this project will depend on ongoing volunteerism, both from the Savitt Medical Library and staff from our university partner, the Sanford Center for Aging, as well as contributions of Vista volunteers and university students engaged in service learning activities. By expanding and improving the content of a website to aid caregivers in finding health information and community resources, we believe our work will help the population and elders and others dependent on caregivers live more independent and fulfilling lives. Through greater awareness of health literacy issues, we expect case managers and discharge planners to be better able to provide their clients with more useful and comprehensible information, promote better self-management, and more effectively connect them with community resources for assistance.
ABOUT Alan Carr
Alan Carr is the Associate Director, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region, based at UCLA.
View all posts by Alan Carr