Tipperary man Michael Power prescribes use of plain English in hospitals

New guide aims to improve communications

Tipperary Star reporter


Tipperary Star reporter


Tipperary man Michael Power prescribes use of plain English in hospitals

Michael Power, NALA, with Miriam McCarthy, patient advocacy liaison manager, UL Hospitals; Sinead Taylor, occupational therapist; Noreen Spillane, chief operations officer, ULH Group

Nenagh man Michael Power is helping UL Hospitals Group to assist staff in producing plain English materials for patients, service users and colleagues

Michael, a National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) representative, faced his own challenges with literacy and his experiences in the health service.

He was delighted to launch the group’s guide to assist staff in using plain English.

“For many years I could not read or write. It was only when I had children that I decided this had to change. I wanted to be part of their upbringing, to be able to do their homework and read them a bedtime story more than anything else. Since learning to read and write, I haven’t looked back,” said Michael.

He said that he had difficulty understanding technical terms when both of his children attended hospital at a young age.

“By using plain English hospitals can help patients to understand what can often be very technical and stressful medical information. This makes life much better for patients and service users,” he said.

Speaking about the new guide, Noreen Spillane, chief operations officer at UL Hospitals said: “The National Patient Experience Survey has clearly told us that patients would like more information about their condition and care plans. The new guideline is to help our staff present information for patients, service users or colleagues in a clear, concise and easy to understand way, with checklists to ensure that information is being communicated in plain English. If we all follow the guideline, we will improve communication with everyone who uses our services at UL Hospitals.”

The guide requires staff to write accurately and clearly, avoiding jargon and to use clear layout and design in their leaflets, letters and communications.