This page is for patients, their families and carers as well as the health and care staff supporting them.
We want to help everyone understand their own health and care better and we provide a lot of support for anyone interested in health literacy and patient information.
Health Literacy Toolkit
This 2023 second edition of the Health Literacy Toolkit opens with a general introduction to health literacy and digital health literacy. The main focus of the document is a review of tools and techniques that are freely available.
The principal tools and techniques are listed below, with links where these are specific tools on external websites, rather than wider techniques. Different aspects of health literacy, such as ‘Spoken Communication’, are included in the full toolkit as context for using the tools
Guidance and Tools
1. Communicating with people
Tool 1: Levels of literacy and numeracy
2. Spoken communication
Tool 2: Teach-Back
Tool 3: Chunk and Check
Tool 4: Health Literacy eLearning
3. Written Information
Tool 5: How to write in plain English
Tool 6: A-Z of alternative words from the Plain English Campaign
Tool 7: Plain English lexicon from the Plain Language Commission
Tool 8: Care and Support Jargon Buster from Think Local Act Personal
Tool 9: A guide to producing written information in easy read from North Yorkshire County Council
Tool 10: Hemingway
Tool 11: Flesch-Kincaid readability test
Tool 12: Drivel Defence
5. Involving service users
Tool 14: Co-production
Information in print
Additional tips for digital information
Pictures, graphs and other images
This is the second edition of a toolkit that was originally developed by the Community Health and Learning Foundation, Public Health England, Health Education England and NHS England. This revised version was developed in 2023 by a Task and Finish group of health knowledge and library specialists, working with Liz Woolf as an external writer.
Free elearning course for anyone
Did you know that 43% of adults aged 16-65 struggle with text-based health information and that increases to 61% if the information also includes numbers? If you want to know more, and learn how you can help people understand health information better, take this 35 minute e-learning course
Easy read guides to download and share
For people with learning disabilities and autism, we have also co-produced two easy read guides to download. ‘Get ready to talk about your health’ prepares them for what to do before they go for a consultation with any health or care provider. ‘3 questions for better health’ suggests important questions to ask during an appointment.
Resources for staff to use and share with the people they care for
For anyone working or studying in health and care, as well as patients, their families and carers with general health and wellbeing we have collected books and online links – take a look at our Uplifting Resources and Your Health Collection. The books are available to staff working a Trust via their health library, but most people will be able find the books in their local public library too.
Understanding health literacy in your area
We have worked with the University of Southampton to develop an online health literacy geodata tool. By allowing health economists, commissioners and planners to see the levels of health literacy in their area means they are better equipped to tackle health inequalities aligned to other local challenges. By simply putting in your local authority you can see place based data. Try it out to find out what that looks like where you live.
The NHS website is the main route to information and services from the NHS. In the Health A-Z section, you will find immediate links with buttons to a comprehensive health encyclopaedia and to Medicines information.
The NHS App
The NHS App lets you book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions and access a range of other healthcare services.
Patient UK has lots of healthcare information. There’s a wellbeing section, where you can get the most recent updates on helping you enjoy a healthy lifestyle, as well as A-Zs for conditions and medicines.
There are videos and discussion forums are other useful aspects of this site – there is even a newsletter you can sign up for.
Watch this short video to find out more about the right questions to ask to help understand your health choices.