The Local Government Association has updated its 2016 self care guide “Helping people to look after themselves” with a publication “Councils helping people look after themselves” containing a series of self care case studies; several of these highlight how councils are collaborating with local agencies such as clinical commissioning groups, businesses, schools and charities to empower people to better look after their own physical health and mental wellbeing. The Self Care Forum is delighted to see five exemplary case studies showcasing Self Care Week programmes, several of which are past winners of the Self Care Forum awards.
The publication begins with a statement on why self care is important:
“Whatever the situation, there is one thing all people who self care have in common: they feel empowered and confident to take responsibility for their own health. Not only is this good for the individual, it is also important for the health and care system which is under more strain than ever.”
The country needs Self Care Communities if we are to make real progress on improving health outcomes and reducing health inequalities.
This was the recommendation of leading figures from the NHS, Royal Colleges, academia and patient groups at the first ever Self Care Summit last month. The event, jointly organised by the Self Care Forum and the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), met to examine ways of accelerating self care in the population and help to secure the health of the nation in ten years. A report of which is now available.
Self Care Communities are based on Marmot Cities which are designed to tackle health inequalities with a focus on indicators for life expectancy, wellbeing, employment, environment, child development and prevention and are already being developed. Sir Michael Marmot, author of “fair society, healthy lives” and Professor of Epidemiology at University College London makes the point that improving people’s health should not just be the responsibility of the health system, “there is clear evidence when we look across countries that national policies make a difference and that much can be done in cities, towns and local areas. But policies and interventions must not be confined to the health care system; they need to address the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.”
It’s Self Care Week and we are hoping to reach as many people as possible to raise awareness about how we can better look after our own physical health and mental wellbeing, and that of our family members. It’s about choosing Self Care for Life by thinking about the small changes we can make to be more healthy; whether it’s about choosing to take the stairs rather than the lift, starting the day with a healthy breakfast and deciding not to work through our lunch break. It’s also about being able to self-treat short term conditions when they strike such as sore throats, coughs, colds and about safely managing long term conditions. Self Care Week reminds us how we can incorporate more positive health behaviours in our life to help us live as healthily as possible.
Health Minister Steve Brine supports the Week:
“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.”
A newly re-designed app is now available to empower university students to take better care of their health. Providing relevant and reliable information on over 150 mental and physical health issues, the FREE ‘Student Health App’ (previously known as ‘ESC Student’) allows students to make informed decisions about their health and helps them flourish at university.
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) launched a report recently which reviews the 10 High Impact actions from NHS England’s Time for Care Programme. The report recommends support for self care with 67% of GPs surveyed citing this as a means of helping to decrease GP workload. The RCGP also calls on the government to both facilitate social prescribing for all practices and to launch public awareness campaigns to ensure public understanding of active signposting. Read the report here.
The logos for Self Care Week 2018 are now available for organisations to start planning activities. Choose Self Care for Life is the strap line and organisations are being encouraged to use Self Care Week as a hook to help people choose self care for a healthier, happier life. A communications document is available to help you start planning in addition to the best practice report from former Self Care Week Award winners in Bracknell Forest and in Yorkshire.
A review of Self Care Week found that more than 300 organisations participated in the awareness week in 2017, 78 of those were Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) with a combined reach of more than 22 million people, more than a third of the population in England.
The review also highlights findings from a survey of participants which found that self care for self-treatable conditions was the most popular message being communicated and signposting to the community pharmacist the second most favoured. The survey also found that social media was the most chosen medium being used during Self Care Week. For further details about the campaign and the diversity of organisations that supported it, read the full review.
The Self Care Forum is delighted to be endorsing “Working With Cancer” from the European Men’s Health Forum. It is a short 12-page booklet that answers all the questions that working men, whether employed, self-employed or freelance, have when cancer strikes.
The Guide, which is free, was written by a working man with cancer, developed with a steering group including working men with cancer and read and commented on by working men with cancer. It has also been endorsed by a host of organisations such as the Royal College of Nursing, London Southbank University and the Self Care in Europe (SCIE).
Expert Self Care Ltd, (ESc) believes it is important for young people to have access to good reliable information in order to make the right choices about their health and be in control of their wellbeing and has developed a free app to provide support, advice and health information for those considering self-harm or suicide. Esc’s founder, Dr Knut Schroeder, a GP said:“This app is designed for people when they’re at their most vulnerable.”
“It can be hard to seek help, so distrACT aims to make that process as easy as possible. The young people we worked with have informed the content and design, so we hope that it can become a reliable source of support during difficult times.” The app is available in android and iphone.
By Dr Pete Smith, GP in Kingston and Self Care Forum Co-chair
Learning self care skills from an early age is important in encouraging children to want to live healthy lifestyles and to learn about basic ideas about health looking after yourself and self reliance. This can give them the grounding to prepare them for dealing with bigger issues in later life.
It is an important part of what we call health literacy, providing children with the knowledge that will help them understand their health and its importance as they grow.
The ideas below might seem obvious, but often self care at this age is pretty simple though it may not be recognized as such.
Eating healthily and as a family and having regular meals together rather than snacks and only having sweets as special treats. Get kids used to having fruit and other snacks as treats and avoid sugary drinks completely.
Having busy lives can make it difficult but simple things like walking to the shops and trying to encourage babies and children to be active, as much as possible.
Babies in their first year might be encouraged to choose healthy foods and start to copy parents by washing their hands after a meal and holding a toothbrush to imitate parents.
As they grow through their second year these could be further encouraged along with importance of hygiene by learning to wash their hands independently and by joining in washing themselves and brushing their own teeth before bedtime.
Learning about the general need for cleanliness and hygiene can be helped by encouraging children to put dirty clothes in a wash basket (if that’s what you do) and helping wash up after meals. Mentioning cleaning off germs can be a good way of exploring the eventual question ‘why?’
The need for active lifestyle can be encouraged through getting children involved in parental exercise, even when it is just going for a regular walk or playing a game outside.
Older toddlers could be encouraged to brush their own hair and choose their own healthy food from the fridge. Again basic ideas about healthy bones and teeth can help with the question ‘why?’
Encouraging independent washing of hands and face is helped if soaps and towels are within reach.
When a child has a cold or other self-limiting condition, encouraging children to see that it is possible to look after one another and make things better without necessarily having to go to a GP.
Even learning the home phone number, address and emergency numbers are an important part of self care and understanding.
There is so much we can do to encourage healthy behavior and activity from an early age!