arrow_up-blue blog branches consultations events facebook-icon facebook-icon2 factsheet forum-icon forum hands key link location lock mail measure menu_plus news pdf pdf2 phone policies publications related search share subjectguide twitter-icon word youtube-icon

Self care

It is more important than ever to stress the importance of taking individual responsibility for health. This includes for example, adopting a healthier lifestyle, staying active, eating healthily, only using alcohol in moderation and not smoking.

It is important to make sure we take prescribed medication as advised and do not take antibiotics unnecessarily. It is also about the supported self-management for people living with long term conditions.

As a nurse you have a clear role in supporting patients in making healthy choices and in directing people to useful sources of information. You can also provide advice, education and training to help people manage their condition, to know when to seek medical help and when they can self-manage their symptoms.

The NHS Choices webpage Your health, your way - Your NHS guide to long-term conditions and self care provides some useful information. See also: Self Care Week 2015 Resources – Self care for life.

Antimicrobial resistance

Over use of antibiotics is of increasing concern and antibiotic resistance (AMR Antimicrobial resistance) is a major problem, see: World Health Organization - Antimicrobial resistance. It is seen as one of the most significant threats to patients' safety in Europe. Better controls are needed to prevent over use of antibiotics and appropriate education programmes set in place to ensure patients know when to take them properly.

Without effective antibiotics many routine treatments will become increasingly dangerous. To slow resistance we need to cut the unnecessary use of antibiotics. The public, students and educators, farmers, the veterinary and medical communities and professional organisations are being asked to become Antibiotic Guardians. This is a UK wide initiative led by Public Health England.

The Department of Health’s UK 5 Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2013 to 2018 sets out actions to slow the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance with a focus on antibiotics.

Pharmacy and self care

Local pharmacists are increasingly a source of information and advice for people in supporting self-care. The NHS Minor Ailment service is now available through many community pharmacies. See: The Royal College of Pharmacists animation on Minor Ailment Services. The service is very often more convenient and the results for patients just as good as being seen at a GP surgery or in A&E.

A campaign from Pharmacy Voice and PAGB (Proprietary Association of Great Britain) has urged people to self-treat winter ailments such as coughs and colds rather than going to the GP surgery and asking for antibiotics which are ineffective in treating the symptoms of viral infections. The campaign ran until the end of February 2014, see: Treat yourself better with pharmacist advice.

Useful resources

Self Care Forum

The purpose of the Self Care Forum is to further the reach of self-care and embed it into everyday life. 'Empowering people with the confidence and information to look after themselves when they can, and visit the GP when they need to, gives people greater control of their own health and encourages healthy behaviours that help prevent ill health in the long-term.'

The Self Care Forum has developed a range of useful resources, including: factsheets; best practice case studies; top tips and a patient portal giving self-care advice to patients.

Self Help UK

Self Help UK is a free and non-profit making website which provides information on self-help organisations for specific medical conditions diseases and treatments for patients, carers and their relatives. Self Help UK is provided by Intuition Communication Ltd, specialists in health care publishing on the Internet. The website includes a database of over 1,000 self-help organisations, patient support groups and charities across the UK that provide support, guidance and advice to patients, carers and their relatives.

Kings Fund

This resource from the King’s Fund Supporting people to manage their health looks at how to assess whether individuals are ready to engaged or consider life style changes and adopt healthier behaviour. The report looks at the Patient Activation Measure (PAM) tool which is used to gauge patient activation. Patient activation is a widely recognised concept. It describes the knowledge, skills and confidence a person has in managing their own health and health care.