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Self Care Week is an annual national awareness week that focuses on establishing support for self-care across communities, families and generations.
More needs to be done to support people to better look after their own health and empowering individuals to self-care has many benefits for their short-term and long-term health. Helping people to look after their own health, and their family’s health also helps to manage demand on health services.
Self-care and self-management are intrinsically linked; they are two interrelated aspects of our health and social care system that co-exist.
Self-management is the systematic process of learning and practicing skills which enable individuals to manage their health condition on a day-to-day basis, through practicing and adopting specific behaviours which are central to managing their condition; making informed decisions about care and engaging in healthy behaviours to reduce the physical and emotional impact of their illness.
Self-management empowers by being person centric and holistic, encompassing:
As a person’s physical health and/or psycho-social complexity increases and long-term conditions are developed, the need for effective self-management skills and knowledge becomes necessary. This is where both self-care and self-management should occur simultaneously and as such are complimentary, co-ordinated and geared towards empowering the person to have choice and control over their own health and wellbeing for as long as possible.
Self-care includes the actions individuals and carers take for themselves, their children and their families to stay fit and maintain good physical and mental health; meet social and psychological needs; prevent illness or accidents; care for minor ailments and maintain health and well-being after an acute illness or discharge from hospital. Positive self-care behaviours includes: lifestyle; managing therapy; using services affectively; and being able to understand symptoms and problems and responding to them appropriately.
Generally high levels of self-care will help optimise personal health and wellbeing, leading to healthier outcomes for longer which can significantly reduce the risk of developing a long-term condition and remaining healthier for longer.