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Self Care Week saw Anu Singh, NHS England’s Director of Patient and Public Involvement and Insight, as a keynote speaker at two major Realising the Value events. The events were the launch pad for a series of practical resources for the implementation of supported self care. Here she reflects on the next steps for ensuring that person-centred and community-centred care become engrained in practice across the NHS and beyond.
We’ve come a long way since families in Peckham were paid 1/-d (5p) a week to take part in what we might now call a social model of health. That was eighty years ago, but the lessons are still being learnt.
It was an experiment built on the understanding, which must have seemed radical at the time, that health and wellbeing are a product of our personal circumstances, our communities, our environment, and our knowledge, skills and confidence.
And now that early vision is coming to life across the NHS.
We are coming to realise that over-medicalisation is not just wasteful, it is often harmful. We are beginning to understand that people living with long term conditions are themselves the experts in living with their conditions – and that they can teach others to do so. And we are starting to recognise that although clinical outcomes are important, for most people living with long term conditions, it is their sense of wellbeing that is most important to them.
In short, we are waking up to the fact that the roots of health and wellbeing lie not in our hospitals but in our communities. And although medicine and hospitals make an important contribution to our health and wellbeing, so does a sense of being connected into a thriving community. It is not just our sense of wellbeing that improves as a result: clinical outcomes improve as well.
Thanks to the work of the Realising the Value programme, we now have the evidence and the practical examples that show us how to link all of these ways of working into a system of care. Not only do we have the evidence that these approaches add value to people’s lives; we know that they help create social value and they provide value for the taxpayer.
Given this evidence, NHS England is committed to providing leadership for the NHS to engineer Realising the Value principles and practice into the way it works. Over the next three years, we will work with other arm’s length bodies to provide support for local health and care systems to come together with the communities they serve and the voluntary sector. We will support them to create thriving social networks where people living with long term conditions feel confident to manage their own health and wellbeing and live independently.
In short, putting in place Realising the Value will go a long way towards delivering the vision of Chapter 2 of the Five Year Forward View.