Resource Center Poster Session I

Capitalize on Collaboration: Development of a Health Curriculum for Adult Education
Tuesday, March 12, 2013: 12:00 PM - 07:30 PM, OAK, East Hall
Individuals with reading and language challenges are more vulnerable to safety and communication issues. The objectives of the project were to:

     Help individuals better navigate the hospital environment and understand their rights and responsibilities

     Enable individuals to become advocates for their own health and promoters of healthy living

     Ensure tools, forms, way finding signs are as clear as possible.

     Promote mutual information sharing among health care providers and adult students to improve patient care, satisfaction, and safety. 

 Charlottesville is one of 23 locations in the United States who offer care and assistance to refugees through the International Rescue Committee.  All communities have General Educational Development (GED) and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.

Reaching out to vulnerable patients or potential patients to educate and empower them leads to more engaged patients and families.  The demands placed on patients and families by complex health care system exceed the health literacy of most adults in the United States.  The responsibility for health care decisions is falling more and more toward patient self-care.  Hospitals and the processes of care can be very difficult for people to navigate, especially when under stress of having learning/communication barriers. Professional jargon in documents, signage, handouts and conversations need close examination and change where possible.  This project seeks to transform the experience of low literacy patients from our community with the ultimate aim of improving safety and satisfaction.

An eight-unit multi-level health curriculum was developed for the Adult Learning Center in the spring of 2010.  Medical Center staff helped develop the curriculum and annual field trip experiences.  The students come to UVA and are asked to find various destinations.  They also learn about support resources at UVA.  They are given the opportunity complete a medication list and advance directive.  There is time for discussion and feedback about health care processes, way finding and their healthcare experiences.

 For the first two years the goals were to meet the curriculum unit objectives and to learn how to make the student experience as valuable as possible for all.  Changes were made to documents and signage based on feedback.  The next step is to develop a pre/post test to note changes in knowledge based on the experience. 

 Health system personnel can collaborate with adult educators to develop a health curriculum for GED and ESL students as an effective community outreach activity to support health system patient safety, quality care and patient satisfaction.

  • healthcurriculumposter.pdf (1.4 MB)
  • Presentation Information:

    Program: Poster Presentations (Main Conference)
    Primary Category: Organizational Cultural Competence
    Subtopics: Community health education, Health literacy, Partnerships with community organizations

    Region Addressed by Presentation: US Mid-Atlantic
    Organization: Hospital

    Cindy Westley, RN, BC, MSN, ANP-C , Patient & Family Education, UVA Health System, Charlottesville, VA
      Program Manager Patient & Family Education
      UVA Health System
      Patient & Family Education
      Box 800566 McKim 2906
      1215 Lee Street
      Charlottesville VA, USA 22908

      Phone: 434-924-5724
      Email Address:

      Biographical Sketch:
      Cindy Westley is involved with the development, implementation and evaluation of patient and family education and communication projects and programs at UVA Health System. As a nurse has worked on an inpatient unit, as a community nursing instructor and nurse in community programs, and providing clinical liaison for community agencies and facilities who have clients that are patients in the health system. She works closely with colleagues in the Hospital Language Office, and Library to provide culturally aware care.

    Kelly Near, MSN, WHNP-BC, MLS , Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
      Outreach Librarian
      University of Virginia
      Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
      1215 Lee Street
      Box 800722
      Charlottesville VA, USA 22908

      Phone: 434-924-1607
      Email Address:

      Biographical Sketch:
      Kelly Near serves as the UVA Health Sciences Library liaison to Nursing Services and to Community projects and agencies related to research, health literacy, cultural awareness, and improved patient outcomes. She has started programs related to Parish Nursing, teaching older adults how to use computers, and a health curriculum in the community adult education programs.