Reading for wellbeing

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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.

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General details

Report title 
Reading for wellbeing
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Lewisham
Date of publication 
Thursday, 26 March, 2020
Date evidence capture began 
Tuesday, 1 October, 2019
Date evidence capture finished 
Saturday, 30 November, 2019
Type of report 
Key themes 
Health promotion
Information providing
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Not known
Does the information include staff's views? 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.