Self Care Week, 16-22 November 2020

12 November 2020

Self Care Week has been organised annually by the Self Care Forum (SCF) since 2011. Its aims are to raise awareness of and embed support for self care across communities, families and generations. This year’s theme is ‘Live self care for life.’ Visit the Self Care Forum website for further information and lots of resources.

What do we mean by self care?

Self care is defined by SCF as ‘the actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness.’ In other words, it’s about looking after ourselves and those around us. This can consist of self treatment of illness, and of taking steps to stay healthy in the first place.

In the midst of a global pandemic, this is more necessary than ever.

Get involved with promoting self care

As GPs we are well used to giving out self care advice. SCF has produced a series of factsheets which have recently been updated to include references to COVID-19. These can be accessed directly by the public or handed out in surgeries, and give useful information on preventing and treating common minor illnesses. A few examples are Cough, Fever in Children, Back Pain, and Constipation. Important sections include explaining the expected duration of symptoms and listing red flags which should be reported to a clinician.

An e-learning module ‘Successful self care aware consultations’ has been produced in conjunction with NHSE and HEE. The module aims to equip healthcare professionals with the knowledge and skills to conduct self care aware consultations, supporting people to have the confidence to better look after their own health.

In July the SCF launched the Self Care Coronavirus Innovation Awards, seeking nominations from self care initiatives making a difference to people’s lives at a time when they need it most. There were 43 entries, demonstrating inspirational projects being run by community groups and local organisations right across the UK. The judging process has now taken place and the winners will be announced at the start of Self Care Week on 16 November.

Of course, I couldn’t write about self care without mentioning screening. This is a vital element of helping individuals to maintain their health. There was an understandable drop in activity during the first national lockdown, but services are now fully up and running again, with many providers operating at over 100% of their pre-COVID activity levels. GPs should be actively encouraging their patients to participate.

Look after yourselves

Finally, it is important for us GPs to look after ourselves and our teams, now even more so than usual. As workload and stress levels increase we must take the time to think of our own physical and mental health. To quote from the SCF’s Boosting Your Mood factsheet: ‘Be gentle with yourself and those around you. Nothing is “normal” right now because the Coronavirus crisis has an impact on all areas of our lives. Don’t expect to feel okay all the time or to be perfect at everything. You are doing the best you can.’

Dr Dominic Horne

Post written by

Dr Dominic Horne, RCGP Fellow

Dr Dominic Horne is National Specialty Adviser for Screening at NHS England and Trustee of the Self Care Forum.

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