Sir Kevin Barron MP led on a Self Care Week Debate
Self Care Week was the topic of a debate in parliament on 22 November 2016 led by Sir Kevin Barron MP, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Primary Care and Public Health and long-time champion and campaigner on issues of public health. Referring to Self Care Week as “excellent” he spoke of it going from strength to strength with the growing number of local and regional health organisations using it to support and educate people in their health. He also used the debate to highlight recommendations from the APPG’s latest inquiry which looked at aspects of the Five Year Forward View, and spoke of the need for a National Self Care Strategy led by a Government Minister and National Director to drive forward a programme of work to help empower people in their own health.
Health Minister David Mowat, who was also taking part in the debate, recognised “the moment for self care has arrived.” He acknowledged “the Self Care Forum has been doing a lot of work in this area for a number of years,” and, responding to Sir Kevin’s call for a national self care strategy the Minister said “my general learning point would be that we need fewer strategies and more implementable plans.”
Health Spokesperson, Sharon Hodgson MP also provided a view from the Opposition (Labour) during the debate saying “the NHS is a trusted bastion, but sadly we are seeing more and more people accessing NHS services when there is no need and when a chat to one of our excellent community pharmacists would have sufficed” and “self care is a crucial preventive measure that must be developed further to ensure that the NHS is as resilient as possible and can respond in more effective and meaningful ways to the nation’s health.”
Self Care Week has gone from strength to strength in the last few years with innovative collaborations and inspiring initiatives designed to help empower people to look after their own health better. This is why the Self Care Forum introduced the Self Care Week Awards in 2015 and, during the Self Care Conference in September, Award Winners, including a Highly Commended, were presented with certificates and a £500 bursary by the Self Care Forum co-chairs, Dr Pete Smith and Dr Selwyn Hodge.
Those winners are:
Yorkshire:City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Bradford City CCG, Bradford Districts CCG, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG
Bracknell:Bracknell and Ascot CCG, Bracknell Forest Council and,
Self Care Week highlights the need to Self Care for Life
Self Care Week, the annual awareness week which aims to increase people’s ability to look after their own health and wellbeing, is taking place from 14-20 November with events up and down the country to help people understand how to self care for life.
Organised by the Self Care Forum, Self Care Week provides an opportunity for healthcare professionals and health organisations to talk to patients and the public about self care and explain how they can effectively look after their own health and help prevent avoidable conditions.
As the country experiences the first real cold snap of the season, it is an ideal time to start a conversation with people about self care, by reminding them about the best ways to treat common winter conditions, such as coughs and colds, and supporting those with long term conditions to be prepared for the winter.
“People practice self care every day” says Self Care Forum co-chair and GP, Dr Pete Smith, “when we brush our teeth, choose to exercise or eat healthily, this is self care. However, self care is also understanding how to self-treat common ailments, manage long term conditions and avoid preventable illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.”
Self Care Forum co-chair Dr Selwyn Hodge agrees “we are all living longer, but we’re not spending those extra years in good health. We seem to have lost the ability to understand and use health information to keep ourselves well and know what to do when we become ill. Self Care Week gives healthcare professionals an opportunity to talk to people about their wellbeing and help improve their health literacy.”
Welcoming Self Care Week, the Health Minister, David Mowat MP said “a wealth of advice is available through both NHS choices and from pharmacists to treat a wide range of minor ailments like colds and back pain.
“However the NHS is here to help and for more serious cases, we still recommend seeing your GP.”
Notes to editors:
Self Care Week runs from 14 to 20 November and the theme is ‘Understanding Self Care for Life’.
The Self Care Forum is an independent charity, number 1167500, which aims to further the reach of self care and embed it in everyday life.
The Local Government Association published “Helping people to look after themselves – a guide to self care” on 2 Nov 2016 to support local authorities in implementing self care strategies locally. Prof Ian Banks, Trustee of the Self Care Forum is quoted in the guide saying “we have robbed people of their ability to self care, whether for minor ailments or long-term conditions. We’re now reaping the whirlwind – people are coming to us with conditions that they could self treat.” The LGA also recommends local authorities make the most of national campaigns such as Stay Well this Winter and Self Care Week.
Also included in the guide are 9 case studies of good self care practice, two of which showcased activities by Self Care Week Award winners Bracknell and Bradford.
Self Care Conference Report: Longer Lives but in poorer health
First the good news – life expectancy in the UK is rising. Today, at current rates, one in five boys and one in every three girls aged five will live to celebrate their 100th birthday.
But there is also bad news – while people are living longer, they are also spending more of their extra years in poor health. Moreover, not everyone is sharing in the overall trend towards longer living; in 2013, if you were living in the most deprived areas of the country, you could expect to be only just getting close to the life expectancy levels enjoyed by less-deprived groups way back in 1990, the Self Care Forum (SCF)’s annual Self Care Conference, held recently in London, has heard.
ESC Student is a free app developed by ESc (Expert Self Care) to help improve student health and increase health literacy among young people. Developed by GP and Self Care Forum Board member, Dr Knut Schroeder together with a team of experts from the Student’s Health Service at Bristol University, and 30 students and health professionals from the wider NHS, the app allows students and young people to answer common questions about their health in seconds and without the need for an internet connection.
The app is certified by the NHS England Information Standard as a source of reliable health information and is available to download now.
Below is a short promotional video of how to get the best from the app.
Launched in Self Care Week, new PAGB-commissioned research has revealed the nation’s top health concerns are staying healthy as you get older (65%), keeping fit and active (59%) and eating a healthy diet (56%). As well as wanting to prevent ill health, people also worry about funding for the NHS (29%) and delays to get a doctor’s appointment (22%) if they become unwell.
However, despite this desire to remain in good health, people might not be making the best use of services to access health advice. While 82% of people turn to Google for health information, 89% rely on their GP. Pharmacy, on the other hand, is comparatively underutilised, with just 63% trusting their pharmacist with their health concerns.
Dr Pete Smith, a GP and Co-chair of the Self Care Forum, said: “I am encouraged that people want to stay fit and eat well, but it is vital that we provide information to people to help them make those healthy lifestyle choices and ensure they know where to go for advice and support. Self Care Week is an opportunity for all healthcare professionals to work with their local community to do just that. This will have many benefits for people’s short-term and long-term health, as well as addressing their other concerns about funding for the NHS and availability of GP appointments, by reducing pressure on the NHS.”
To help surgeries, Clinical Commissioning Groups, local authorities and health trusts plan early for Self Care Week 2016, we have produced generic images to download now.
A theme will be unveiled shortly, but in the meantime, please use these images to support your Self Care Week promotions whether you want to raise awareness about preventing ill health, choosing healthy options to improve physical health and mental wellbeing, signposting to the pharmacist or self-treatment, self-management or increasing people’s levels of health literacy, we very much hope you will find these logos helpful.
The Self Care Forum believes that maximum engagement can be achieved by putting people in charge of their own lives, giving them the information to make their own decisions and by using the health service as a support and resource when needed. To realise the benefits, the Manifesto focuses on the ‘four pillars of self care’: Lifelong learning, empowerment, information and local and national campaigns.
Dr Pete Smith OBE, a GP, winner of the 2014 NICE Shared Learning Award and Self Care Forum Board member explains: “With demand for health services increasing at an alarming rate, increasing levels of public engagement in relation to their health is more important than ever. Our Manifesto includes new recommendations for radical changes in approach to promote engagement and calls for existing methods to be expanded, equipping them with the information and knowledge to self care throughout their lives. It pinpoints what needs to happen throughout life for people to feel confident in taking control of their own health, looking after themselves, making healthy lifestyle choices and knowing when they really do need to seek NHS help and support.
“To ensure the sustainability of the NHS, empower patients and embrace the opportunities outlined in the ‘NHS Five Year Forward View’, we urge health policy leaders to act on these recommendations.”