A pilot project for adult learning is being carried out in Glasgow's East End in a bid to reach out to people with literacy problems.
‘Learning on Prescription' will let health staff - such as GPs and community pharmacy employees - ‘refer' patients to the adult education scheme who might benefit from getting into learning.
The pilot project is being showcased in and around Tollcross Medical Practice, The Cairn's Practice in Shettleston Health Centre and Auchinlea House at Easterhouse Health Centre.
Vicki Trim, Health Promotion Officer and Learning on Prescription co-ordinator, explained: "Learning on Prescription basically involves frontline healthcare staff ‘referring' each patient with learning needs to the project. The person can then go to the reception area of his/her GP practice and get an appointment with the learning adviser who's covering that practice.
"The patient would subsequently meet the learning advisor and have a personal plan designed to help with his/her learning needs. This could be anything from reading and writing lessons at a local community centre, to computer sessions at the nearby library or a local college course."
But why is the health service running an education-based project?
Vicki went on: "Research shows there's a strong link between health and literacy levels. People who have poor literacy capabilities are more likely to experience poor health, poverty, depression and unemployment.
"Adults with low literacy levels experience barriers in obtaining health advice and accessing services. There are also problems with tasks such as filling out medical consent forms, reading instructions on medicine bottles and understanding the signs in hospital grounds and the leaflets about conditions and treatments.
"Statistics also show that women with low literacy levels are five times more likely to suffer depression, so the health service decided to create a project that aimed to tackle these problems by making the link between learning and health."
So what does the future hold for Learning on Prescription?
As the scheme is presently a pilot project, it will be monitored and assessed throughout the duration of its funding to see how effective it is proving. And, although it will continue, an extension to the project - with a different target group - is planned to be set up around March 2005 elsewhere in the city.
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
· The Learning on Prescription work in the East End is currently supported by adult literacy funding that was awarded by the Glasgow Community Learning Strategy Planning Group.