HIQA publishes guidance aimed at improving communication in health and social care services

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority has today published Communicating in Plain English to offer guidance for providers of health and social care services.

Safety issues can occur when service providers do not use language that is easily understood by patients or because patients may be overwhelmed by the amount of information given to them. According to the National Adult Literacy Agency, NALA, 1 in 6 people in Ireland have a literacy difficulty; finding reading and understanding everyday texts difficult.

HIQA, in conjunction with NALA, has developed two guides to help health and social care providers communicate effectively with all those using their services. To support these guides HIQA has also released a short educational video which explains the concept of using plain English in practice.

Marie Kehoe-O’Sullivan, Director of Safety and Quality Improvement at HIQA said; “Different people and communities all have different communication needs. This guidance will help health and social care service providers communicate more clearly with service users and their families and friends. It is possible to improve your service by taking account of the literacy and numeracy needs of your service user. In turn, this leads to high quality and safe service.”

Marie Kehoe-O’Sullivan continued;“Plain English is a style of presenting information that helps someone understand it the first time they read or hear it. It is a more effective way of writing and speaking. It helps people to access, understand and use information quickly and effectively.”

“Removing long and complicated information and jargon in favour of clear and concise information enables service users to fully understand and access health and social care services. Effective communication allows service users to make informed decisions, access their entitlements and meet their legal duties.”

The two documents issued today to assist service providers include a guide for communicating with adults and a guide to communicating with children and their families.


Further Information: 

Suzanne O’Brien, Communications Manager, HIQA
01 814 7488 / 087 624 1216 sobrien@hiqa.ie