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.”
According to a paper published in the Self Care Journal in February 2015, healthy people have a duty to maintain their own health through self care. Entitled The responsibilities of the healthy: a manifesto for self care, the paper suggests that while there is substantial literature on the duties of health professionals to look after the health of their patients and individuals there is very little duty placed on the healthy individual to avoid bad lifestyle choices.
In the same vein, the paper states that it is also the responsibility of a healthy person to use healthcare resources appropriately and therefore to self care for self-limiting illnesses. It further advises people to promote health and wellbeing to their children and that without self care the emerging epidemic of lifestyle diseases threatens to swamp healthcare systems around the world.
In conclusion, the paper states that we cannot continue to delegate responsibility for our health to others and must self care to maintain our health.
If further proposes a “self care manifesto” which illustrates the responsibilities of individuals, health professionals and Government and communities.
The Self Care Manifesto
According to the manifesto:
The individual – should adopt a healthy lifestyle; use health resources only when needed, and first practice self care.
Health professionals – should provide self care advice and support on risk factors for major diseases; provide advice on the self-limiting nature of common illnesses and treatment options.
Governments and communities –should provide initiatives to support healthy lifestyles information in schools; provide incentives to primary care professionals to prioritise the provision of self care advice on the responsible use of health resources.