Monks Park Doctors Surgery's monthly column - February 2019
The definition of Self Care is “the actions that people 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 means taking individual responsibility when you have a minor condition which doesn’t normally need medical care from a doctor or nurse to get better.
In practice this means that you decide that you can manage your own symptoms without seeing a clinician.
Self care is good for you. Being empowered with the confidence and information to look after yourself when you can, and visit the GP when you need to, gives you greater control of your own health and encourages healthy behaviour that helps prevent ill health in the long-term. In many cases people can take care of their own minor ailments, reducing the number of GP consultations and helping GPs to focus on caring for higher risk patients, such as those with co-morbidities, the very young and elderly, managing long-term conditions and providing new services. Self care is something millions of us do every day – for positive and practical reasons.
On average, people in the UK experience nearly four symptoms every fortnight, the three commonest being feeling tired/run down, headaches and joint pain and most of these can be managed in the community without you seeking professional healthcare.
But what if you feel you need some advice before you are able to self-care? For instance, if you’re not sure if your condition is minor, or one that goes away of its own accord, i.e. a virus, or if you just want advice on how to relieve the symptoms.
The good news is, your local pharmacist can help you. Local pharmacies provide NHS services in the same way as GP practices – and pharmacists train for five years in the use of medicines before they qualify as health professionals. What’s more, it’s a walk-in service, open all day.
These are the common conditions that people can often manage for themselves:
Coughs and colds
Sprains and strains
If you’re unsure about which conditions you should be managing yourself, or how to manage them, see your local pharmacist. A pharmacist will assess symptoms and consider any long-term conditions, and the medicines that you’re taking, before providing a recommendation. They will either:
Support/advise you in your decision to self-care.
Sell you an ‘over the counter’ medicine (which doesn’t need a prescription or visit to a GP) that will help relieve symptoms and make you more comfortable.
Signpost you to the right medical care if you need it.
To find your nearest pharmacist who can help you self-care, search online here