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Self care for life

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As demand for health services escalates and budgets continue to come under intense scrutiny, there is increasing need for local authorities and the NHS to do more to help people look after their own health and wellbeing. Matthew Clift, Project Manager for Prevention and Self Care, Bracknell Forest Council looks ahead to November's Self Care Week.

Launching Self Care Week last year, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, Earl Howe said “Self care is vitally important, it is critical for the NHS and its longevity.”

Matthew Clift: 'Planning for Self Care Week does not have to be difficult and it does not have to be expensive, in fact, a successful campaign relies more on community links.'
Matthew Clift: 'Planning for Self Care Week does not have to be difficult and it does not have to be expensive, in fact, a successful campaign relies more on community links.'

Self Care Week, which will run 16 - 22 November, has been an essential part of Bracknell Forest Council and Bracknell and Ascot Clinical Commissioning Group’s health and social care programme since 2012. It has enabled the partnership to reach people across the community and has given a valuable insight as to how services are used and what people do to look after themselves.

This year’s theme, ‘Self Care for Life’ is broad enough that the partnership can use the campaign to promote a wide range of self care messages. Whether the focus is on self treatment for minor ailments, self management for long-term conditions, signposting to appropriate health services or generally improving people’s health and wellbeing and increasing their levels of health literacy, Self Care for Life is a meaningful banner and can be used across the entire self care programme of work.

Self Care week resourcesPlanning for Self Care Week does not have to be difficult and it does not have to be expensive, in fact, a successful campaign relies more on community links. Joining up with local partners such as GP Surgeries, Pharmacies, Hospitals, Health and Wellbeing Boards, local Healthwatch, schools and gyms will ensure a wider reaching, more co-ordinated campaign.

Having self care information stands at more than 200 locations in the Bracknell Forest means all self care priorities are covered and can reach people of all ages. The partnership works closely with schools during Self Care Week. According to the Self Care Forum, health literacy is as important for children to learn as the alphabet. As well as providing them with the knowledge to self care throughout their lives, it can also be very powerful because children share what they learn with their families.

The Partnership’s focus this year will be on having a meaningful conversation with the local community, a move towards social prescribing, offering direct help to people to take care of their own health by linking them with support services available in the area, such as smoking cessation and weight management.

I would urge everyone that has responsibility for patients or communities to get involved in Self Care week this November. Join forces with partners in your local area and help support people to look after their own health better. Of course, like any public health campaign, promoting the same message, at the same time at a national, regional and local level will ensure a wider reach and make a stronger impact.

Self Care Week is run by the Self Care Forum and was introduced to allow people-facing organisations to have a platform to support their patients and population to self care. A guide and resources to help you plan your campaign are available on the Self Care Forum’s website.

I will be presenting on Bracknell’s Self Care Week campaign at the 17th Annual Self Care Conference on 11 November in London, for details on how to register please email:

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  1. Comment by Stephen Barraclough posted on

    Is this 'for real'? This year’s theme, ‘Self Care for Life’ is broad enough that the partnership can use the campaign to promote a wide range of self care messages. Does that perhaps hint that long term health care is expected to become D.I.Y.? (But not JUST to save money of course - though that WILL be an additional benefit of the policy!)

  2. Comment by Carole Cliffe posted on

    Am so sick of this rhetoric on finding ways not to fund the health service firstly how does someone with severe and complex care needs self care or even start to take self responsibility? They are completely reliant on a person to take up that responsibility and reliant on how good a job that person does...........secondly how do the 600,000 plus carers caring for loved ones many of whom require 24/7 care (sometimes two to one) self help given the volume of hours being contributed to support that person with care? Assumptions of time being available, hours and funding being available or even appropriately trained and experienced people being available is a nonsense. I can't even get to see a GP, dentist or hospital appointment as the systems out there ensure I "self help" to the point of you know what if feels like to have a loved one deemed and treated as subhuman by this government or to find yourself as a carer having no value other than that of self helping the government out of their responsibility to support the most vulnerable in society so they can self serve the affluent and those with high aspirations and an ability to fund self care....

  3. Comment by Mrs Maureen RichardsMBE posted on

    There has over many years been the shift by health and Social Services to shift the responsibility more and more onto the carer or the person needing a high level of care.

    Since the time of the shifting the need of care and the authorities not being the provider but the purchaser.

    Then going on to the individual in need taking on where possible purchasing their own care and the minefield out there they have to go through to achieve this on a constantly moving platform. To also add to this in many cases now the changes to the administration of the Independent Living Fund moving from central government to local authority and which is not just coming where there is some kind of control as this money is not ring fenced. This for many of of the most severely disabled people who need the continuity of their care is a most frightening time for them in this most uncertain time.

  4. Comment by N King posted on

    Is physical health following in the footsteps of mental No beds!!

  5. Comment by phill alcock posted on

    I despair at the, few but perhaps significant comments so far. There are a host of chronic conditions caused by individuals neglecting their health and they then expect a health service to bale them out. Smoking, lack of weight control and inactivity give rise to a myriad of ill health episodes. When will the majority take personal responsibility for their own neglect? People should stop relying on the medical professionals to cure their self created illness and free up resources for those who are ill due to no neglect of their own.

  6. Comment by gwyn jones posted on

    Where I live in Conwy County the Borugh Council is deleting public footpaths & denying the public access to their therapeutic countryside. Walking is cheap & one of the best therapies for maintaining both mental & physical health & fitness..
    gwyn jones