Alice Leahy, Director and Co-Founder of TRUST, the first overall winner of theCrystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Awards 2009 with the other award winners at the presentation ceremony in Dublin.

Healthcare professionals acknowledged for their efforts to address health literacy problems

Press Release issued by Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Awards 2009

Dublin, Monday 20th April 2009: Alice Leahy, Director of TRUST, was the first ‘Overall Winner’ at the Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Awards 2009 today for her life’s work in combating social exclusion and providing medical related services for people who are homeless. Alice, who was appointed to the Irish Human Rights Commission in 2006, was awarded at a ceremony in Dublin. Six other organisations were also recognised for their efforts to communicate clearly with the public. Alice won the prestigious overall award for her impressive work with the charity TRUST, a non-judgmental, befriending, social and health service for people who are homeless, which she co-founded in 1975.

“Alice’s work embodies the ethos of health literacy,” said Dr. Gerardine Doyle, UCD Business Schools and chairperson of the Crystal Clear Awards judging panel. “She empowers those who are sleeping on the streets of Dublin, who have varying literacy levels, to access the services they need. The judges felt her willingness to communicate in non-conventional ways through personal contact, paintings, poems, uplifting magazines and books is inspirational and we honour her for her ongoing dedication to a person-centred model of care.”

The Crystal Clear Awards are part of the MSD/NALA Health Literacy Initiative, which is a collaborative project between the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) and Merck Sharp & Dohme Ireland (Human Health) Ltd. Over 135 entries were received this year, each one focusing on health literacy, which is a person’s ability to make sound health decisions in the context of everyday life.

Ms. Inez Bailey, Director of the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA), said:

“Every patient has the right to basic health information that is easy to access and understand. All the projects shortlisted for the Crystal Clear Awards should be commended for taking a patient-focused approach to communicating health matters. With over 1 in 4 Irish adults affected in some way by literacy difficulties, it is crucial that healthcare professionals communicate more clearly with their patients in order to help them to effectively manage their own health.”

Commenting at the awards lunch on behalf of the awards sponsor Dr. Neil Boyle, Managing Director, Merck Sharp & Dohme Ireland (Human Health) Ltd. said:

“Following on from the success of the first Crystal Clear Awards last year, we’re delighted to see an increase in the number of entries this year. We feel the response reflects the growing awareness among healthcare professionals of the need to think about health literacy when communicating with patients on matters concerning their health. We hope that the MSD/NALA health literacy campaign will help lead to better informed and more empowered patients.”

Some of the awards in various categories included: St. Mary’s Hospital for the ‘Lifestory Project,’ designed to help those who find it difficult to communicate due to depression or dementia, Ana Liffey Drug Project for the ‘Duck, Dive and Survive’ series of information leaflets, The Women’s Health Council for the booklet ‘Menopause: A Guide,’ St Michael’s House for the ‘Live and Let Die’ Bereavement and Loss Programme, the Irish Society for Quality and Safety in Healthcare for the ‘Let’s Talk Medication Safety’ educational booklet and the HSE Health Promotion Service for their ‘3-Week Menu Plan’ for pre-school services.

For further information on the MSD/NALA Health Literacy Initiative or the Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Awards log onto