Sunday, 23 December 2012

There is more than just the self in self-management

Self-management is about managing your own long-term health condition. But the word "self" can be a bit misleading. I self-manage myself and find it really empowering to have that control, but my learning and self-management has been facilitated by a number of people: the tutors on my EPP course, my counsellors, my parents, my doctors, my physio and other healthcare professionals I meet. It has to be said that some of the aforementioned facilitate my self-management more than others, but I am certainly no island in my self-management.

And island living isn't really the philosophy behind self-management anyway. I have developed the skills to cope better myself, but also to use other people better, whether through improved communication skills, planning of appointments or as information sources.

And it's not just me that self-manages my conditions. My parents self-manage as carers. In fact, EPP runs self-management courses for carers such is the impact for carers, which illustrates the team approach to management of long-term health conditions.

The point I am trying to make is really that while "self"-management is enormously empowering and effective for patients, it is not just about patients. Please don't consider self-management as an easy get-out clause for healthcare professionals to not do anything - the reality is that self-management can sometimes require more effort than conventional methods, but is still nonetheless worth doing. It is not about just leaving the patient to get on with it, thinking they no longer need doctors or any medical interventions - far from it! Self-managers can make better decisions about what medical interventions they want and can use time with doctors in appointments more effectively, as well as cope better in the many months in between each appointment.

There is no self in self-management - it is a team effort but the captain of that team is the patient.

"No man is an island"

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