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    Writing about health: using plain English to improve health outcomes
    About the course

    Plain English in health – learn how to show clarity and compassion when writing about health.

    When a person makes a decision relating to their health, it’s essential that they have information that is both accurate and empathetic. This course will help you to identify the health literacy needs of your audience, and write in a way that helps them to make informed health-related decisions. We’ll also look at common legal agreements that patients and doctors have to sign in healthcare settings.

    Our course is delivered online by expert tutors with 15 years’ plain language experience. By building your skills in writing health-related information, you can improve health outcomes for your patients and other stakeholders.

    What you’ll learn

    You’ll leave the course with a set of tools and techniques to:

    • write key health information, such as warnings and dosages of medicines
    • put together patient consent forms
    • create useful and responsible Covid-19 messaging
    • present frightening information in a clear, compassionate way.

    Course outline

    In this ‘Writing about health’ course, you’ll get a solid foundation of plain language in health, including:

    • the readability level for public health information
    • common messaging for Covid-19 communications
    • how to decide between medical jargon and everyday words (even slang)
    • how to be scientific and empathetic in your content.

    You’ll also develop skills in:

    • how to plan and structure health information
    • how to use the active voice, strong verbs and short, simple sentences
    • how to write in a way that meets the language elements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
    • how to user test health content.

    For full course details, please contact us via the Enquire button, and we’d be happy to provide you with a full breakdown of modules and outcomes.

    How you learn

    The training is carried out by experienced tutors via live online classroom sessions for a maximum of five attendees. We run the training through video conferencing software (usually Zoom or Microsoft Teams) with WhatsApp as a back-up technology.

    There are 12 hours of intensive training overall, delivered across two full-days or four half-days. We set practical exercises and assignments throughout the course, with a customised assignment at the end.

    Our courses are interactive. We rely on your examples, input and discussion. This is adult-to-adult learning where:

    • we train a principle or technique
    • we show you an example of how it’s put into practice (preferably in a real example from your organisation)
    • you apply the principle or technique in a short exercise, which we discuss as a group
    • you do an assignment at home to reinforce the learning right away.

    Who is this course for?

    Our course can be adapted to suit a beginner or intermediate level of skill in writing about health. The course is particularly useful if you are writing content for a health insurance company or healthcare provider.

    For those more experienced in writing health information, you may want to incorporate some of the optional advanced modules in the course. These vary in length and include options such as: how to create an assessment framework for plain language, legal writing, user testing and inclusive language.

    Please get in touch for further information on advanced modules via the Enquire button below.

    What does it cost?

    The price is €2,000 (excluding VAT). The course is for up to five delegates so it’s ideal for small businesses or for teams within large organisations. You’re also welcome to book as a group of individuals from different organisations. You pay for the course, and not for each person, so it’s better to take up all five places.

    Further plain language training options

    We also offer a number of other plain language courses, including:

    If you are interested in any of these alternative courses, please email recruit@firehead.net and we’d be happy to provide you with further information.


    More than 9,000 delegates from seven countries have already benefited from this plain language training. Here is some of their feedback:

    “The course gives a straightforward process of how to write content – it has also given us a head start in setting up internal standards for plain language.”

    “Writing scientifically, and with empathy, are key skills that I learnt on this course.”

    “We looked at how to communicate simply – without over-simplifying.”

    Course type
    Live online
    Course duration
    12 hours
    Course date
    €2,000 for 5 people
    Course tutor
    Frances Gordon, Candice Burt

    Frances has devoted her 20-year career to enabling people and organisations to communicate clearly. Frances is well-known as an advocate for plain language in the legal, financial and technology industries. With her help, many organisations have been able to transform ‘small print’ into useful, usable communication. Besides being founder of Simplified, she has held tenures at large banks, technology companies and fintechs.

    Candice is a plain-language lawyer, who combines the rigour of legal writing with best practices in communication. Her focus area is legal and financial documents. She believes that even the most complex legal contract can and must be made accessible to its readers. Over the past 20 years, she has become known as an inspiring trainer and impressive conference speaker.

    Contact us today to arrange your plain language course or for further information.