Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Why should the NHS promote self-care?

The motivation of an organisation to do something or embrace an idea can be quite telling about their over-all attitude. The case of self-care is a good example of that, and shows the importance of doing things for the right reasons.

Several years ago self-care was seen as "free-good", a money-saving tool. The mindset has begun to change towards appreciating the direct benefits for patients such as control and empowerment. In order to reap those benefits, self-caring patients need support from healthcare professionals. Once some investment has been put into a self-care infrastructure, the benefits become much more significant and widespread. 

Self-care is not "free-good" and should not be seen as a money-saving tool. It is primarily a tool to optimize the experience of living with a long-term health condition for patients, to empower them and minimise psychological illness. If done successfully, it can create savings for the NHS but that should not be the motivation for embracing self-care, because if it is, the key principles of self-care are at risk of being lost in a sea of 'reducing service use' rhetoric. 

Because the motivation determines the outcomes, and the real outcomes for self-care are personal to the patient and can not to be measured in monetary values. 

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