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Self-care week. Think self-care for life. Healthy Life Essex

Self-care, which to us means encouraging people to take responsibility for their health and wellbeing and lead happier, healthier, greener lifestyles, has been the focus of Healthy Life Essex since we launched in 2005, initially as a hard copy magazine and then in the format of this website.

The Self Care Forum explains the self-care continuum, which is a concept of integrated care starting with the individual making basic lifestyle choices to the other end of the spectrum whereby healthcare professionals take full responsibility for a patient, as follows:

The Self-Care Continuum is the sliding scale of self-care in the UK, starting with the individual responsibility people take in making daily choices about their lifestyle, such as brushing their teeth, eating healthily or choosing to do exercise.

Moving along the scale, people can often take care of themselves when they have common symptoms such as sore throats, coughs etc, for example by using over-the-counter medicines. The same is true for long term conditions where people often self-manage without intervention from a health professional (DH figures state that people with long term conditions spend on average 4 hours a year with a health professional, which means the remaining 8756 hours are spent self-managing).

At the opposite end of the continuum is major trauma where responsibility for care is entirely in the hands of the healthcare professionals, until the start of recovery when self-care can begin again.

The NHS can support people to self-care at any point during the continuum”

NHS Southend and NHS Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning Groups agree that more needs to be done to support people to look after their own health better, and that empowering individuals to self-care has many benefits for their short term and long term health which is particularly important since people are living longer but not necessarily living in good health.

Tricia D’Orsi, Chief Nurse for NHS Southend and NHS Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning Groups, said:

“There are many illnesses and injuries that can be treated at home with self-care, which is about having the confidence, support and information to take control of your own health and wellbeing. It is not about managing entirely on your own with no help. Lots of self-care advice is available from your NHS locally as well as the NHS website.”

“Always follow the directions on medicine packets and information leaflets, and never take more than the stated dose. If you have questions about any of these medicines or you want to buy them, ask your local pharmacist. Always keep medicines out of the sight and reach of children. A high, lockable cupboard in a cool, dry place is ideal. Regularly check the expiry dates on a medicine. If a medicine is past its use-by date, don’t use it or throw it away, take it to your pharmacy, where it can be disposed of safely.”

Whilst we wouldn’t disagree with this advice, there still seems to be a greater emphasis on self-care in terms of self-managed ailments rather than prevention; and on the dependence on pharmaceuticals rather than considering natural remedies.

The Commissioning Groups’ press release suggests that ‘a well-stocked medicine cabinet will help you treat many everyday illnesses and minor ailments at home. For example, a small supply of paracetamol or ibuprofen (available as syrup for children) and other remedies will help you treat common ailments such as coughs, colds, sore throats, indigestion, toothache, headaches and constipation. If you have children, don’t forget to include appropriate medicines for them.’

And yet sometimes, the best remedy for a headache is to drink plenty of water and get some fresh air. And even the NHS website states that “hot lemon with honey has a similar effect to cough medicines” and includes a ‘recipe.’

So, Healthy Life Essex supports Self-Care Week. The message is the right one and the NHS is definitely moving in the right direction – but there’s a way to go yet.

In the meantime, to help you with your self-care on a deeper level, keep reading all our great articles and blogs, check out the events and directories, and register for the Healthy Life Essex e-newsletter if you don’t already get it.

Image credits:

Self-care image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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