Public and patient information

With so much competing health information easily available these days, it’s more important than ever that you produce credible, up-to-date content that people can easily understand, that they can really rely on and that meets their needs.

Your organisation may also need to clearly communicate to the public what it is doing (and why), and how this may affect them. People want to understand what services are available and what to expect if they need to use these.

Over the years WriteCare has helped to produce all sorts of information aimed at the general public and specific groups of people, for many different purposes, including encouraging particular actions or changes in behaviour. Here are some recent examples.

Evidence-based guides

I have been part of Bupa’s team of writers and editors, reviewing and updating information on specific health conditions, treatments, procedures and tests. This must be readable but also firmly based on robust evidence, and comply with the principles of the NHS Information Standard and Patient Information Forum TICK quality mark for trustworthy health information. Writing for Bupa also means following its own guidelines on tone of voice and accessible style to get the right balance between accuracy, honesty (about the risk of side effects or complications, for instance) and reassurance.

Under Bupa’s rolling programme of revising public and patient health information to take account of the latest evidence and expert opinion, I have covered a wide range of online topics, including specific conditions such as peptic ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. I have also edited easy-to-follow leaflets on general healthcare like sun protection and minor surgical procedures for patients at Bupa clinics to take away, and worked with specialist clinicians to write blogs tackling subjects such as coming off medication and links between stress and skin conditions.

Explaining changes to Greater Manchester residents

As well as writing and editing complex plans and policies for the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, WriteCare has created information to explain the impact its devolved powers and new approaches may have on local people. This has included writing succinct, meaningful public summaries of the partnership’s:

I’ve also produced a narrative outlining ‘the devolution difference’ to clearly explain how this innovative way of working has benefited Greater Manchester residents.

Celebrating individual achievements

Information for the public can be especially effective when it tells a human story and shows how individuals can contribute to a community’s overall health and wellbeing. For example, on behalf of NHS Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit I wrote a series of case studies on people who’d won awards as part of the ‘Solihull Together for better lives’ programme run by a local health and social care partnership. I gathered information from their nomination forms and supporting materials as well as speaking to each winner personally to hear their experiences in their own words and ensure the stories were authentic.