People Powered Health

Delegates at Health and Care Innovation Expo 2014 were treated to a fascinating insight into the world of self care. Asking the question, ‘Is self care revolutionary or just rhetoric?’, a panel of leading experts explored the changes required across health care to manage the major growth in long-term conditions and to develop and implement more effective approaches to self care.

Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support and non-executive director of NHS England, said that “we need to help people be well and live well in the community.” He continued, “approaches to self management need to begin at the start of any treatment for long term conditions.”

Colin Cheeseman, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2001, spoke about his experiences with self management of the disease. He said that long term conditions can leave you feeling withdrawn and isolated. Reading from his poem ‘The Uninvited Guest,’ Colin explained how long term conditions can take away much of the pleasure of being alive. Colin explained that he believed that patients have to draw on their own resources – they need to believe they can achieve a quality of life they are happy with. Through proactive self-management, patients can enhance their outcomes

“People powered health is a fundamental challenge to the health system,” stated Halima Khan, Director of the Innovation Lab at Nesta. Patients are becoming more and more knowledgeable about their conditions and self managed healthcare needs to take place in partnership with the clinicians.

Susan Summers, Head of long term conditions at NHS England, looked at what healthcare professionals need to do to make sure self care actually happens. Asking the question about what is stopping us and how do we change the conversation, Susan explored what we need to do to help people make the changes they need to make in their lives, exploring the idea of a ‘tsunami of need.’

Summing up, the panel explained that whilst self care is not free, in the long term it saves money by releasing time for clinicians. Let’s just get on with it!