The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has issued advice on how to support people that might be suffering from loneliness.
It reports that the affects of loneliness and isolation on our physical health and mental wellbeing can be as harmful as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. As a result, lonely individuals are at higher risk of the onset of disability putting them at greater risk of cognitive decline.
Tackling loneliness, it says, is an important way of improving people’s overall health and wellbeing and this can be done in a range of ways such as supporting people to improve their existing relationships, working on their attitudes, expectations and skills around relationships, as well as providing new opportunities for social connection.
More advice on how to help people with loneliness is available on the RCN website.
By Dr Peter Smith OBE, Self Care Forum’s President
At last – good news for everyone!
For adults, even regular activity of less than 10 minutes at a time can reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, improve your mental wellbeing and help you live longer say the UK’s top doctors[i].
And you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete or spend hours in the gym to achieve the benefits.
‘Some is good, more is better’
The message is ‘Start somewhere and build up when you can’.
They recommend regular moderate activity building up to 150 minutes a week. Sounds a lot until you realise that’s just 21 minutes a day.
They also say that even if you can’t reach this goal, any activity will help. Even better – if you aren’t doing much exercise at the moment, the benefits of little and often are even greater. Just start somewhere.
If you can talk but can’t sing, it’s moderate exercise
Moderate activity includes brisk walking, cycling and shopping (but not online!) so doesn’t have to cost anything. You don’t need to buy any special equipment, shoes or Lycra!
If you’re not sure what you’re doing is moderate activity, if you can talk whilst exercising but not sing, it’s moderate. Having difficulty talking without pausing is a sign of vigorous activity.
Just do something!
Doing nothing is dangerous.
Long periods of sitting down, whether at a desk, on social media or watching TV is risky even if you do regular exercise, so break up periods of sitting with a short period of light activity.
So the challenge is – can you switch your phone to airplane mode for 10 minutes twice a day and walk briskly to work, to the shops or round the block?
Or record a soap episode, go for a brisk walk and reward yourself with watching it knowing you’ve made your life longer and healthier?
The Self Care Forum is marking the start of Self Care Week 2019– theme ‘Think self care for life’ – with the launch of an easy to use e-learning package aimed at helping GPs, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals incorporate self care messages in their consultations.
“Successful self care aware consultations”, developed in partnership with health professionals and patient representatives, was commissioned by NHS England to support its guidance on non-prescribing in primary care of items which can be obtained over the counter.[i]
The e-learning package aims to equip healthcare professionals with the knowledge and skills to conduct “self care aware” consultations to support people to have the confidence to better look after their own health when it comes to self-treatable conditions.
Self Care Forum president, Dr Peter Smith, who has been conducting self care aware consultations for many years, believes self care is better care. “As a GP, I discovered over 30 years ago that people want to look after themselves as well as they can and want to be reassured they are getting it right.
“By including self care messages in as many contacts as possible we can help them achieve this. And, whilst there’s lots of pressure on all our time, this online course can help GPs incorporate self care within the confines of a 10 minute consultation.”
In launching its new self care guidance on sexual and reproductive health and rights, the World Health Organisation (WHO), explains that self care interventions represent a significant push towards new and greater self-efficacy, autonomy and engagement in health for individuals and caregivers.
WHO also believes people are increasingly active participants in their own health care and have a right to a greater choice of interventions to help them better manage their health and well-being. Further details have been laid out in a self care Q&A which explains that when it comes to self care, health providers need evidence to ensure it does no harm and is beneficial at an individual and population level. WHO is currently reviewing and generating evidence to assess the role of providers and the competencies required in supporting people to self care. In the meantime, a series of infographics accompany the guidance.
Huge congratulations to the inspiring Fylde Coast CCGs for their achievements during Self Care Week last year. The winners of the first “Outstanding CCG” award, a joint accolade from NHS Clinical Commissioners and the Self Care Forum, were presented with their certificate at the Health+Care Conference in London. For more details on their award winning Self Care Week initiative go to the best practice page.
The Self Care Forum is delighted to announce the awards for Self Care Week 2018, which was a remarkable year with more than 600 organisations and individuals participating.
Speaking about the awards, Self Care Forum co-chair Dr Selwyn Hodge, who has been on the judging panel since the awards began in 2015 said “each year it becomes more difficult to choose the award winners.
“Year on year the bar is raised by exemplary Self Care Week initiatives that are more creative, more innovative and more empowering.”
Self Care Forum Board Member, Dr Knut Schroeder, who is also on the judging panel said “It is heartening to know that so many organisations are realising the benefit of using Self Care Week as a vehicle to help improve people’s understanding of how to better look after their own physical health and mental wellbeing. I am very much looking forward to seeing what’s in store for Self Care Week 2019.”
Julie Wood, NHS Clinical Commissioners’ Chief Executive added “we are delighted this year to partner with the Self Care Forum to support the hotly contested award for the CCG of the Year. Supporting and empowering people to self care is one of the core priorities for our members right across the country. It not only improves outcomes for individuals, but also helps to ensure that we can target our limited resources to where they will have most impact for patients and populations. The quantity and quality of nominees in this category shows of the range of impressive work that CCGs are undertaking in their local areas to get the word out about the importance of self care. Big congratulations to Fylde Coast CCG for winning the Self Care Week Outstanding CCG award, and well done to all the entrants in a very remarkable field.”
Winner – Bradford and Craven
Outstanding Clinical Commissioning Group – Flyde Coast CCG (Joint Self Care Forum/NHS Clinical Commissioners Award)
Innovator – Bath Spa University’s Students Union
Highly Commended – Norfolk and Cambridgeshire Children & Young People’s Health Services
Dr Selwyn Hodge supports the recommendation made in a White Paper by the consumer healthcare association, PAGB calling for self care techniques to be core components of the health education curricula in England. Dr Hodge, a former teacher, Deputy Headmaster and campaigner for greater health literacy to be taught in schools said “the renewed focus on prevention and helping people to stay healthy, outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan should start to transform services and ensure they are fit for the future. However, health literacy is key to reduce unnecessary demand on the NHS by empowering people with the information they need to self care appropriately. We believe that the opportunity to ensure the youngest members of our society receive that information at school is a missed opportunity and urge the Government to look again at its draft guidance.”
The Guidance,the Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education Draft Statutory Guidance, was published in February 2019 after a short consultation. The Self Care Forum submitted a response with recommendations that would mean children are given the knowledge and life-skills about their physical health and mental wellbeing they need to take them through life, as well as an understanding of how the NHS works and how it should be accessed. Disappointingly, these recommendations were not included and the Guidance falls short of ensuring compulsory, standardised comprehensive health education is part of the school curriculum in England, indeed it is a missed opportunity.
If you would like to know more about the recommendations put forward by the Self Care Forum please email.
95 of the 195 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) participated in Self Care Week in November 2018 encouraging their population of 28 million people to Choose Self Care for Life.
The evaluation of Self Care Week also found that more than 600 organisations and individuals used the initiative to promote their own brand of self care message with self care for self treatable conditions the most popular amongst local organisations.
Social media, twitter in particular, was the most common medium used during Self Care Week and showed the increasing diversity of participants communicating the value of self care to their audiences including libraries, gyms, parks, charities, therapists and pharmacists.
This year also saw an increase in local organisations such as CCGs, local authorities, local Healthwatch as well as family surgeries holding events and competitions to help the local population.
Talking about the success of Self Care Week 2018, the Self Care Forum’s co-chair Dr Selwyn Hodge said “we are delighted with the extent of engagement for Self Care Week which grows each year. The outcome of this engagement serves to move us towards our goal of increasing levels of health literacy and supporting people to instinctively understand how to look after their own health and wellbeing, whilst at the same time recognising when they need to ask for help.”
Here are more details of the achievements of Self Care Week 2018.
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.”