What is self care?
Our health is our most important asset and learning how to care for ourselves enables us to take control of our own health and wellbeing.
Being proactive about our health helps us to avoid becoming ill, treat common, everyday illnesses, take medicines and properly seek help when we need it as well as keeping fit and healthy.
If you have a long-term condition, there are extra things you may need to consider, such as making changes to your diet, different types of exercise or different types of medication you may need to take.
Self care means staying active by doing things that are important to you, such as gardening, seeing friends and family, going on holiday and continuing to work, if possible. It involves looking at what you can do and want to do rather than what you can not do.
Living a healthy lifestyle is an important part of self care for everyone. There is lots of useful information on NHS Choices Live Well pages. If you are living with a long-term condition, Your health, your way has advice on self care and taking control of your health.
Self care does not mean you get less help from your doctor. The healthcare team is still there to support you. What and how much support you need will be discussed with you and written in your care plan.
Who can help me?
Pharmacists, GPs and practice nurses can offer specific advice and support if you do become unwell or are managing a long-term condition. There's also plenty of information and support available to help you to take care of yourself on a daily basis:
The NHS.uk website contains useful information on self care support and links to information on specific health conditions, from commonly occurring symptoms to long term conditions.
Pharmacists can give help and advice about health and wellbeing, and about treating commonly occurring symptoms. Their advice is useful if you have a long-term condition as they can offer lots of support and information specific to your own health needs. Some pharmacists are also accredited to undertake free reviews, with your consent, to ensure you are taking prescribed medications properly and discuss any concerns or issues preventing that from happening. Ask them about these services.
Technology is also changing the way we take care of our health. As well as mobile 'apps' to help us to manage our weight, diet and exercise and learn more about health related issues and conditions, there is Telehealth monitoring equipment for people with complex conditions to enable them to stay at home, but still stay in touch with their health professionals - more information can be found online or by calling 01872 266388. You can take gentle health walks led by Health Promotion, contact 01209 310066. For general information on being active, please see the Get Active Cornwall website for lots more ideas and information.
Self care and choice
When you talk to your GP or nurse about your condition, you may want to discuss some of the things you need to do to stay well. Some of these will be things that you do yourself, including eating healthily, exercising or taking your medicines at the right time.
You might want to make choices about your care and who will provide it. This means sitting down with your nurse or GP and looking at what treatment and care is available and recording it in a care plan.
When you are first diagnosed with a long-term condition, these choices will be important. If your condition improves or gets worse, or other things in your life change, you may need to change your care plan to suit your needs.