Self Care: Key to Health Reform Worldwide
I had the opportunity this week to spend time with National Health Service colleagues in Manchester, England, where I gave a keynote address at a conference called Self Care Aware.
During the past three years, the National Health Service (NHS) has been implementing a self care strategy that focuses on individuals taking responsibility for their own health and well-being. It is a strategy that goes to the heart of health reform and strives to balance rights and responsibilities with informed choice. In his opening remarks, Chief Executive of NHS North West, Mike Farrar, acknowledged the profound culture change that this will demand.
Throughout the day, there were many brilliant examples of self-care initiatives including a self-care toolkit for people with chronic illness and a program called The Calm Zone, which is targeted at young men ages 15-35 that offers help, information and advice on work issues, financial stress, bullying, relationships, self-harm and suicide. A six-week course called Self Care for You teaches people how to manage minor ailments, acute illness, long-term conditions, and adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors.
Every organization within the NHS in this region is expected to make self care a major focus of their work. While I have seen many healthcare organizations and systems through the years embrace new directions, too often the changes are cosmetic and don't really address core values and priorities. I found the progress that has been made here in England and the commitment to self care to be nothing short of stunning and a wonderful model for other countries, including the U.S. My address titled Transforming Health Care: Patient Empowerment echoed some of the conference's self-care strategy and included information about our website Taking Charge of Your Health.
What do you think about self care's role in reforming our healthcare system?