Self-management support is the help given to people with long term conditions to enable them to manage their health on a day-to-day basis.
All people with long term conditions and their carers make decisions, take actions and manage a broad range of factors that contribute to their health and wellbeing on a day-to-day basis. In fact, the vast majority of the time, it is they who are managing their health and wellbeing and not an individual health professional or service.
It is therefore common sense – supported by health policy and evidence of positive outcomes – that health professionals, teams, and services (both within and beyond the NHS) should enable people to manage their health as effectively as possible, alongside providing good clinical care.
What is self-management support?
Self-management support is when health professionals, teams and services (both within and beyond the NHS) work in ways that ensure that people with long term conditions have the knowledge, skills, confidence and support they need to manage their condition(s) effectively in the context of their everyday life. A system of effective self-management support requires changes at every level from how and what services are commissioned, to how health professionals and people with long term conditions work together in a consultation, to how people are supported in between appointments. Read more about what self-management support is.
Why do self-management support?
Research shows that when people are supported to look after themselves, they feel better, enjoy life more and have fewer emergency visits to GPs and hospitals. A review of almost 600 studies found that supporting people to better manage their own health can improve their self-confidence, self-efficacy, self-management behaviours, quality of life, clinical outcomes and patterns of healthcare use. Read more about why to do self-management support.
The key components of self-management support
People can be supported and enabled to manage their health and wellbeing in a range of different ways. A system of effective self-management support should include the following approaches and activities:
- Training for people living with long-term conditions that gives them the knowledge, skills and confidence to manage their health condition on a day to day basis
- Training for health professionals, health coaches and others who support people living with long term conditions in the evidence-based skills that have been shown to be effective in enabling supporting people to self-manage
- Optimising systems and processes used by services so they work in ways that help people to self-manage and make it easier for health professionals to support them
- Working with community assets – in particular groups and organisations providing peer support – to build on and complement clinical care, enabling people to share knowledge, experience and practical help with each other
- Building technology around the needs and aspirations of service users and groups so that it supports people to use services and access different kinds of support in the way that works best for them
Read more about the key components of self-management support.
Measurement and evaluation
Understanding how well services are supporting and enabling people to achieve the outcomes that are important to them is a complex area. Determining the right measures can support personalisation of services and drive a focus on the value of care to the people receiving it, not only the activity undertaken and clinical outcomes achieved. Measurement and evaluation can also be used to demonstrate how self-management support is helping the organisation meet wider corporate objectives, as well changes in service utilisation and improvements in clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. Read more about how to measure and evaluate a self-management support programme.