5 Self-Care strategies for the next 5 years
As the new UK Government reiterates its manifesto promise to protect NHS spending in the new parliament, policy planners and think tanks will be looking to the notion of Self-Care as a hard objective to soften the pressure on the NHS. With the right steerage and vision, it could pierce the extraordinary pressure on HCPs and integrated primary care.
Right now, it’s an abstract strategy, with some good intent and sporadic investment. Bodies such as the Self-Care Forum are developing good content and advice, though we’re some way from weaponising its potential.
The next 5 years are critical to seeding Self-Care in public health provision and there are very simple strategies to get there.
1. Support it at the front-line
We don’t want a repeat of the Big-Society fiasco. Whilst we need state investment, we’d do well to avoid state intervention. Central government needs to foster the climate of responsibility and entrepreneurialism at a local level. The St Lawrence Surgery in Southern England is a perfect example of this spirit in action.
2. Get the content sorted
Health-literacy is a major component to its success. We need to support HCPs, patients and communities with access to brilliant, objective and usable online content. It needs to cater for a diverse community with varying accessibility, needs and wants. And we need to centralise it, drawing on commercial and public investment being considered for more individual initiatives.
3. Less green slips, more white paper
For too many decades, patients have treated primary care like sweet shops. If we haven’t left the GP appointment with a green slip, we haven’t completed the transaction. Access to advice and self-care content, ideally housed online, provides care through content. Minor ailments need to be ‘treated’ with clear white-paper content carrying objective advice for managing care in the OTC space.
4. Rx & OTC support
An excellent ‘Day in the life of a GP’ piece on Advertising Health recently, describes the absurd workload of the average GP in the UK. What’s clear is that conventional Rx brand collateral targeting this audience is hard-pushed to even get a glimpse. There is a compelling need for resources to assist their advocacy of Self-Care. Credible content, information resources and forums are vital in educating patients in distinguishing symptoms between mild-ailments and serious conditions. Keeping within the bounds of regulations… there’s surely an opportunity to build HCP relationships through resource and support.
5. Better engagement through technology
Best practice hygiene in digital space and resources is critical to soften the pressure on admin and ancillary care support. Surgery webspaces need genuine support in creating better user experiences. Content for screening symptoms needs substantial improvement. Greater use of social media tools could provide more assuring and trustworthy resource, as well as tactical channels for streamlined management of patient communities.
Of course, this list isn’t definitive, but emphasises the need for hard investment in education, content resource and technology. All simple principles, which could give finite public funds a route to formalising a Self-Care climate and ultimately a much more health-literate community. Surely 5 years is enough to get the foundations built.