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According to the Self Care Forum there are 57 million GP consultations a year involving minor ailments which takes up on average an hour a day for every GP. Self Care Week is an annual campaign run by the Self Care Forum that encourages patients and the public to understand how they can look after their own health and that of their family. The theme this year is ‘Understanding Self Care for Life’ to encourage health literacy. Most of us agree that self-care by patients has an important part to play in reducing pressures on general practice – but how can we as doctors translate this into action?
Self care is of ever increasing importance due to the current growing workload problems and also due to the considerable benefits it presents for patients. How can you and your surgery this Self Care Week look to energise engagement and focus on self care?
Firstly, the Self Care Forum has lots of leaflets and posters available which can be displayed in waiting rooms and handed out to patients. The BMA’s patient liaison group has produced information for patients on self-care which can be accessed here.
Secondly, face-to-face contact provides an opportunity to initiate a discussion on self-care. Remind patients to ensure their medicine cabinet is well stocked and that their local pharmacist can offer free health checks and advice on many common illnesses. For a handy checklist to stock a medicine cabinet you can signpost patients to the NHS choices pages here.
Thirdly, encouraging patients to manage their own health will require proper planning to encourage and coach patients to build their confidence in their ability to self-care. You can get inspiration from clinicians who have designed and implemented self-care strategies by working with patients on our Quality First pages.
But please remember that encouraging your patients to look after themselves is something that should happen all year around. During Self Care Week consider how you can embed and develop self-care strategies and communications all year round and build up the self-care resilience in your community over the long term. RCGP has created an e-learning module which equips practitioners with the knowledge and skills to conduct a ‘self care aware’ consultation for patients with self-limiting minor ailments, you can access this here.
We would love to hear how you have empowered your patients to take control of their health, you can tweet us @BMA_GP with your top tips, use the hashtags #selfcareweek #selfcareforlife or email us at [email protected]
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