The range of services joint working can offer is limitless. Here are just a few examples....
- Professional networking and exchange visits
Talking informally to local colleagues in other sectors can help staff explore common themes and objectives and possibilities for the different sectors to help each other in meeting local goals together, such as health libraries hosting networking events.
- Health library query service
Specialist librarians in the NHS and medical schools can advise on authoritative and reliable health information sources and search strategies, as well as advising on the best health book stock to buy. Local PCT information teams should be able to give you contact information.
- Signposting to local NHS services
Librarians come into contact with hard-to-reach groups and are seen as a trusted source of information. The NHS can train them to send people in the right direction for local services. The library is also a good place to put leaflets and posters about your services and consultations.
- Initiatives to promote healthy living
The local NHS and libraries in your area may already enjoy good links with the local authority's leisure centres. There is scope to work together - for example on a healthy lifestyles event with a focus on exercise, sport and diet.
- Hosting health and information events
Libraries can take information about their services including what they do on health into GP surgeries. The NHS can offer blood pressure screening, dental checks or immunisations at the library. It works well in either direction.
- Choose and Book
With a GP referral, NHS patients now have the opportunity to choose their hospital and book appointments directly online. With training from NHS colleagues, librarians are successfully assisting patients with this process.
- Outreach services
Public libraries have a reach into their communities that is second to none, visiting schools, prisons, hospitals, care homes and vulnerable housebound people. They can act as health messengers, bringing support on health and choice to these sections of the community.
- The Digital Divide
By supporting people who are not IT literate to use the internet on the People’s Network, library staff can give them equal access to online information and tools, closing the 'digital divide' even for people who do learn IT skills for whom they can print out material.
- Rural Inequalities
Through their network of mobile libraries, including some with broadband enabled PCs on board, libraries can bring written and online health information to the most isolated rural communities by working in partnership with colleagues in the NHS.
- Books on prescription
Mental health professionals can prescribe self-help books from a list of recommended titles. The patient presents the 'prescription' at the library, which holds the specified collection
- Mental health services
Some joint initiatives are taking the mental health agenda even further. Some libraries host computerised cognitive behavioural therapy facilities, or bibliotherapy reading groups that help people explore their feelings through literature.
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