Easy read guides to health choices and questions to ask

11th August 22

HEE easy read documentsDo you care for someone with a learning disability?

The national NHS Knowledge and Library Services team has worked with people with lived experience to produce two, new, easy read guides for people with learning disabilities.

Regardless of their abilities, anyone can have problems understanding and accessing health information.  This could include information about medication, appointments, treatment or their health conditions, as well as the format information is provided in, for example by letter, email and online.

‘Get ready to talk about your health’ prepares people for what to do before they go for a consultation with any health or care provider.  It includes important information about their rights and what they can ask for, such as information in different formats, help to understand information provided or physical help to get to and from appointments. There is a specific section on preparing for an online appointment.

3 questions for better health’ suggests what to ask when people have a healthcare appointment. Adapted in consultation with experts by experience into easy read from the NICE shared decision making guidance, the main emphasis is making sure people understand they have a choice about their health and care.  The questions are:

  • What are my choices?
  • What is good and bad about my choices?
  • Can I get support to help me make my choices?

Designed to help people navigate healthcare information, the simply explained guides could help them get the treatment they need and want. Also to get the answers in a form they can understand.

HEE easy read documentsHealth Education England has funded the project to produce the easy read documents and the team has worked with experts by experience throughout to make sure the finished product is fit for purpose, along with a representative from NICE.

While designed for people with learning difficulties, these guides are also very useful for professionals – to help them understand the needs of people with disabilities or learning difficulties.  They also provide a really useful guide for anyone planning or receiving healthcare as the information is relevant for everyone.

Ruth Carlyle, head of Knowledge and Library Services, HEE said: “It is so important we enable people with learning disabilities and autism to have better health conversations and participate in the choices and management of their own health. This piece of work is a start to that process.

“I am confident these leaflets will be welcomed by the health and care professions as well as patients. Although these leaflets are produced in easy read, the content and format will help anyone who struggles with health literacy.  It is also useful for those who might struggle to comprehend a health diagnosis.

“It has been an enjoyable process to produce these documents with the talented group of experts by experience and I hope we will work together on other projects soon”.

The documents have been produced as accessible PDFs to download or print out.

The second, exciting phase of the project is to produce this supporting information as a video – currently being co-produced with the same group of experts by experience and healthcare professionals in primary care.  The video resources will be available later this year.


Click here to download the guides from a website.