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Supporting self care

Self care is about individuals taking responsibility for their own health and well-being. It covers every aspect of living a healthy life, from brushing our teeth to looking after ourselves when recovering from illness.   

For people living with a long term condition, self care can bring independence, self worth and the ability to lead a life that's as near normal as possible.

All the evidence shows that proactively managing a long term condition is better than reacting to it. The best care management programmes involve:
- multi-disciplinary teams
- supported self care and self management
- the education of patients and carers.

In January 2008 the Prime Minister made a commitment to a patients’ prospectus setting out how the 15.4 million people with long term conditions can access a choice of self care services.

Your health, your way – a guide to long term conditions and self care was launched on the NHS Choices website in November 2008. It sets out the support that patients with long term conditions can expect from April 2009. These include:
- local services provided by primary care trusts (PCTs) and local authorities
- locally specific information through NHS Choices and other formats
- choice to support self care.

This is not new policy but draws together existing work and information. It covers healthy lifestyle choices and the four pillars of support for self care:
- information
- tools
- skills
- support networks.

Your health, your way - a guide to long term conditions and self care was developed with over 70 stakeholders, including patients, clinicians, third sector representatives and staff from PCTs, strategic health authorities (SHAs), local government and DH.

The guide is available to those who have the greatest need, lowest health literacy and lowest health engagement. The approach is continually tested with patients to look at other methods of delivery to ensure that we reach vulnerable and hard to reach groups.

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