You are already doing the first one – reading these web pages to learn more about what you can do. Well done! Getting to this stage is probably the hardest thing. If you are reading this then you are already well on your way to self caring and learning how to do it better! See – it’s not that difficult. Now you just need to do the 9 others!
Gain access to your GP electronic health records. Our experience shows that this is very helpful for you to understand your OWN health better. The doctors and nurses are busy collecting vital information about your health which you may see us inputting into a computer when you visit of the clinical staff. We do our best to capture the important features of what matters about your health in your records. You can see the list of significant health problems that you suffer with which could be useful for you to understand how best to self care or to help others who are going to advise you about your care, now or in the future.
Find out what minor ailments are and see if you have ever suffered with any of them? Think about what you would do if you ever fell ill with the same complaint again. Think about going to visit your pharmacist to understand what advice they might offer. Unlike the doctor or nurse, you don’t need to book an appointment to see pharmacist and they are well trained in the use of medicines. But one word of advice – choose a time when they are not that busy. They might not be able to spend a lot of time with you if there are 10 other people waiting to collect their prescriptions behind you!
Stay active and enjoy the things you like doing! We want you to continue to enjoy the things you like to do such as gardening, playing bowls, cycling or physical sports, going on holidays, feeling better about yourself and what you are no matter what others might think. By simply asking yourself how you are doing?, what activities are available that you could get involved with? what are others doing that helps them and possibly learning from them so that you too can benefit from the same activities. Nobody is perfect. Everybody has something that they can improve or do better. Think about what you are doing and see if you can improve it even slightly. Look at some of the resources we have gathered together for you to help you to be even better, more active and enjoy life even more! What are you waiting for? Let’s all self care more! Click here to learn more about how we are supporting Change 4 Life in the practice. Click here to learn more about Self Care from NHS Choices
Take a look at Map of Medicine to help drive your care? Self care has been designed by clinicians to help describe evidence based healthcare pathways for a range of conditions (essentially what we have learned in medicine about the most appropriate way to treat a particular condition based on the experience of those that have gone before us). The maps (of medicine) – also called Health guides – are designed from the perspective of a patient and describe what should happen starting with you coming to see your pharmacist, nurse or GP, what tests they might arrange and what treatments they may offer you. You can choose what you feel is best for you in conjunction with your clinician. It includes what will happen if you get referred to the hospital and what should happen to you there. However, there are times when the clinician treating you may choose to do something different to the Map of Medicine. If you know where they are deviating from the path then you can politely ask them why they are doing something different. Chances are they will appreciate your input and show you are actively engaging in your healthcare and using a primary knowledge source as well that is up-to-date. If you are not sure what pathway you should be on then why don’t you ask the clinician if they can provide with your very own Map of Medicine pathway to use too! Click here to see Map of Medicine pathways and see if you can find one that is relevant to you. Look at your GP electronic health record to help you with this too!
Have you registered with HealthSpace yet? HealthSpace is a great on–line tool that can operate as your own personal diary and monitoring tool for you to use free of charge. Healthspace has been designed by the NHS for you to record your own body parameters such as weight, blood pressure or peak flows. But it is much more than that. You can store notes to remind you of issues that you want to raise next time you visit a clinician. You can even record any important meetings you might have (not just related to healthcare) and set it to send you an e-mail reminder a few hours before, a day before or even 2 days before. How’s that for helping you to self care even better This is just the start – there are plans in the future to develop the functionality further to help you even more. So what are you waiting for – sign up and start using it now. Next time you go to see your doctor, nurse or pharmacist astound them by bringing your readings neatly printed out hopefully showing an improvement too!
Understand your health better! Just having access to records and recording your blood pressures and seeing the pharmacist does not in itself lead to better health. It’s when you make sense of all these things and what they mean for you and then translate that into what you can do, what choices you are willing to make and what things you do not want to do for example you may wish NOT to have surgery – this understanding assists in driving up the quality of care. There is no point in the doctors planning surgery for you if you are dead against it. But you can still talk about it and the clinician should be able to provide information for you to understand the pros and cons of the decision you wish to make. We know that patients usually do things because of habit and because it is convenient. Now we want you to understand your health better and make that a common habit as well as convenient too. And before you say “well won’t that make me neurotic doc?” No – it won’t if you understand your health better! That’s the whole point. Once you understand your health better, you will become less concerned about your health (similar to the feeling most people have when they check their car tyre pressures or just had it serviced). If it works for cars, it can work for us human beings too! But of course there is ONE big difference – your doctor, nurse or pharmacist is on your side and wants to help you so if you do get confused, lost or just not sure what to do then come in and see us. We are here to help!
What about if you don’t have the skills to learn by yourself? That’s OK too as long as you have a “can do” attitude that says “I want to learn and acquire the necessary skills to do so. Some of these things are free eg going on the Expert Patient Programme whilst others may be at low cost (eg Going to the library for a 6 week course for 2 hours once a week for a cost of £10 in total or FREE if you are on benefits). You can check your own blood pressure on the machine in the waiting room for free or you might choose to buy a blood pressure machine so that you can check it at home / work etc. The pharmacist would be able to tell you about the different types available and their costs.
Join a walking club, sports gym or just start a 5 aside football game on Sundays with friends and other colleagues! Do something fun today. Call your friends and ask them if they would like to join you on a fun activity where you both get to help each other. The practice is keen to support you. We could even put posters up in the waiting room about your activity and promote it on the practice website. You might even wish to do a blog about the activity and how it is helping you and others to improve your health. We are hoping to produce a newsletter soon and could promote the activity in that too for others to see. If you don’t know how to do it then just ask – we will try to help you find somebody in the community who is trying to do a similar thing too.
Is there any new equipment that you might need to help you remain independent and enjoy life? Whilst we cannot guarantee that you will always get what you want, we might be able to point you in the right direction. There is a lot of help available inside the practice and by a range of partners who are trying to reach out to people just like you! You just have to ask! But don’t forget to use it and when you have finished with it, return it so that others may benefit from it too!