Summary of report content
Healthwatch Lewisham undertook research into libraries’ role in providing reliable health and social care information, focusing on the Reading Well project. One of the key findings from their engagement around the NHS Long Term Plan was access to reliable information about healthy nutrition and healthy lifestyle.
Reading Well is a scheme that offers a selection of books, to help people to find out more information about their health and wellbeing. The books (fiction and non-fiction) can help people to understand and manage their condition.
Healthwatch Lewisham undertook eight mystery shops at Lewisham libraries to see how the Reading Well scheme is promoted from the patient perspective and undertook a survey asking Lewisham residents how they find information about healthy lifestyle, including healthy eating and exercise and whether they were aware of the Reading Well scheme. They received 23 responses to our survey.
The survey found that over 50% of the respondents access the internet to find more information about their health and wellbeing. Out of those many use the NHS website or Google search. Only 4% of respondents would use the library for health and wellbeing information. An overwhelming majority of respondents were not aware of the Reading Well scheme.
The mystery shop found both good practice and areas for improvement. The former included film displays for those who do not enjoy reading or cannot read and helpful and friendly staff. Areas for improvement included training for staff to increase their confidence signposting customers to health and wellbeing resources.
There were 6 recommendations to Lewisham libraries about improving awareness of the Reading Well scheme. Healthwatch Lewisham also created a flow chart to help local libraries in supporting customers to seek further information about health and wellbeing.