Encouraging people to choose self care for life

More than 22 million people are being targeted as part of Self Care Week which launches today.

Under the banner of “Choose Self Care for Life” the aim is to engage and empower people to better look after their own health.

Whether it is about self-treatable conditions, long term conditions, or lifestyle choices to ensure better physical health and mental wellbeing, this week raises awareness of the huge benefits of people looking after themselves better.

Organised by the Self Care Forum, the key messages include:

  • How people can better look after their own physical health and mental wellbeing as well as that of their family.
  • Encouraging people to take action for both themselves and others to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness.
  • Understanding how to use health services; where to access services for particular symptoms and a reminder about the role of the pharmacist in offering fast convenient health and wellbeing advice.
  • Self care can be as simple as brushing your teeth and eating healthily to self-treating common conditions and managing long term conditions, it is also about reducing your chance of contracting avoidable conditions by taking steps towards a healthy lifestyle

Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England said: “Last year Self Care Week reached more than 22 million people via more than 300 organisations who participated, ranging from the traditional health organisations to schools, universities, businesses, gyms and parks. This year we hope to reach even more people.

“Self care is vitally important, not least of all as we go into winter when looking after ourselves and keeping healthy is so important. We want to raise awareness and provide information and advice so people can manage their own health needs where possible. This will also support nurses, doctors and other health care professionals to care for those who really need their skill and expertise.”

Health Minister Steve Brine said: “We all have a personal responsibility to look after our own health and Self Care Week is an opportunity to recognise the benefits that simple activities like walking, gardening and arts activities can bring in maintaining our wellbeing and keeping us active.

“Community pharmacists can also be key in preventing illness and where possible we should utilise their wealth of knowledge to treat minor ailments.”

Dr Pete Smith co-chair of Self Care Forum said: “Our aim is to further the reach of self care and embed it into everyone’s everyday life making it a life-long habit and culture.  We want people to instinctively understand how to look after their own physical health and mental wellbeing. Self care is nothing less than actions to lead to a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life,”

“People practice self care every day when we brush our teeth, choose to exercise or eat healthily, this is self care.  However, self care is also understanding how to self-treat common ailments, manage long term conditions and avoid preventable illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.”

Dr Selwyn Hodge, Self Care Forum co-chair added: “All parents hope that their children will enjoy lifelong good health.  However, apart from the nurturing they provide to them as babies, parents now generally do too little to help their children learn to care effectively for their future health and wellbeing.

“More needs to be done, therefore, to help parents to choose a self care for life approach with their children.  Since self care is dependent on good levels of health literacy, one way of tackling this would be for schools and community centres to organise locally based family health literacy sessions with the help of health professionals.”

Dr Knut Schroeder, a GP, Self Care Forum Board member and founder of free self care app resource producer Expert Self Care, said: “Health apps are easily accessible for anyone with a smartphone. Containing information, advice and tips on topics ranging from first aid and healthy living to pregnancy and mental health, health apps can be great for learning more about health issues and enabling people to self care. If you’re not sure which apps to use, check out the NHS Apps library for approved digital tools to help you manage and improve your health.”