Speaking up in support of self care

A group of senior health professionals have today thrown their support behind Self Care Week 2018.

Self Care Week 2018, which began yesterday and runs until November 18, is urging people to ‘Choose Self Care for Life’ by making health-savvy decisions.

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. For some people, and at some times, this is easier than for others.

Rob Webster, Chief Executive of South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS FT, and Pritti Mehta, NHS England’s Head of Personalised Care (North) are running buddies in Leeds, and they are clear about the benefits of self care.

Pritti said: “Both Rob and I try to run. It can be a real struggle to start and the steps from the sofa to the front door are the hardest, but we never regret going for a run and always feel better for it. How we feel is important and research on the benefits of activity and health are well evidenced. If exercise were a drug, it would be hailed as a miracle cure.”

But for some people self care can also mean day-in-day-out, conscious management of their own wellbeing, because they are living with one or more long term condition such as diabetes, arthritis, or COPD. And for others, living with chronic conditions severely restricts their choice, control and ability to self care.

Support to help people self-manage their wellbeing is behind a drive to personalise care across the country. This is care that responds to what matters to the individual, whether that is staying well, dealing with short term illnesses, or managing complex long-term conditions. It includes social prescribing, health coaching, support to build knowledge, skills and confidence for people who find it difficult to take positive steps, or personal health budgets for people with the most complex and chronic health conditions.

James Sanderson, NHS England’s Director of Personalised Care, said: “Personalised care takes a proactive and holistic approach to people’s health, and crucially, supports those people for whom ‘making better choices’ is not easy due to the environmental and social context within which they live.  By supporting people to have more choice and control we enable them to manage their health and wellbeing in a way that works for them.”

Dr Marie Anne Essam, GP at Pathfinder Practice, NHS Herts Valley CCG, said: “Social prescribing changes people and places for the better. It is such a privilege to be a GP at a time when we can appropriately ‘demedicalise’ aspects of our NHS and see resilience grown on an individual, organisational and societal level.”

In a recent blog on the NHS England website, Wendy Saviour, Managing Director for Nottinghamshire Health and Care Integrated Care System, said: “A key future priority for us will be to help prevent ill-health and promote good health. If this is going to happen, then we must rebalance the relationship between people and public services, and using a personalised care approach will be a key way to make this happen.

“Personalised care gives people more choice and control over the way their care is planned and delivered, and results in better health and wellbeing outcomes for them plus more effective and joined-up services.

“Our work is already demonstrating the benefits of this when health and social care is integrated in a very real and tangible way. People we are working with are now more empowered than ever to set their own health and social care outcomes; create their own plans to meet those outcomes; and to identify the support they need regardless of sector or organisational boundaries. And it can often be very simple changes which have resulted in a major change in their life.”

  • Self Care Week is an annual initiative organised by the Self Care Forum to raise awareness about the benefits of self care and what people can do to take care of their health. Its aim is to promote and encourage more self care across communities, families and generations.

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