Supported self-management and patient activation

‘Patient activation’ describes the knowledge, skills and confidence a person has in managing their own health and care. Evidence shows that when people are supported to become more activated, they benefit from better health outcomes, improved experiences of care and fewer unplanned care admissions.

Patient activation is of particular importance to the 15 million people living with long-term conditions (LTCs) who rely, more than most, on NHS services. By understanding people’s activation levels, the NHS can support those people with LTCs in ways appropriate to their individual needs. The Patient Activation Measure (PAM) is a tool that enables healthcare professionals to understand a patient’s activation level, or their level of knowledge, skills and confidence to manage their LTC.

Patient activation and supported self-management are part of the NHS Long-Term Plan commitment to make personalised care business as usual. Personalised Care means people have choice and control over the way their care is planned and delivered, based on ‘what matters’ to them and their individual strengths and needs.

Universal Personalised Care sets out how a comprehensive model of personalised care will be put into practice. Supported self-management and patient activation is one of six key components of the model.

Support for implementing the Patient Activation Measure (PAM) and supported self-management approaches

  1. A quick guide published by NHS England provides practical and operational support to sites considering the use of PAM licences. It focuses on why patient activation is important in managing people’s health and wellbeing, as well as elements to consider before implementing the PAM. NHS England recommend using the PAM in the context of a fully integrated approach to personalised care for people with long term conditions.
  1. Mentoring support. Mentoring is available to sites that are currently using the Patient Activation Measure as part of the Supported Self-management programme 19/20. The purpose of the mentoring programme is to:
    • Ensure that knowledge, confidence and expertise to implement SSM/PAM in mentor organisations is shared with peer organisations to enable them to implement SSM/PAM effectively and at scale
    • Grow local leaders and ‘experts’
    • Develop networks and partnerships that learn together
    • Grow capacity and capability for peer support between CCGs and other organisations
    • Replicate learning about addressing critical barriers and issues

Mentors are available from a range of areas, including clinical, commissioning and operational. Their specific responsibility is to support PAM sites to effectively implement and scale up supported self-management through the use of the PAM with a focus on a system wide approach and PAM reassessments.

The 2019/20 Supported self-management mentoring programme builds upon the previous patient activation measure and existing personal health budgets mentoring programmes.

We encourage applications for mentoring support from new and existing PAM sites. Please email for an application form.

  1. The full version of the PAM implementation guide containing various modules for detailed implementation support is available from the Patient Activation: Knowledge, Skills and Confidence collaboration platform. The platform requires a user ID to access it – this can be requested by sites that have access to PAM licences through NHS England from the Patient activation team.

If you are interested in using PAM within your organisation, please download and complete an application form available on the Patient Activation Licence web pages.

You can find out more about PAM in our Frequently Asked Questions and in the King’s Fund ‘Supporting People to Manage their Health’ report.

If you have any queries about Patient Activation, please email