Self Care Week (12 – 18 November) is the national awareness initiative which aims to increase people’s ability to ‘self care’. The charity organising it, the Self Care Forum, is urging community pharmacists to support Self Care Week. Community pharmacists are ideally placed to provide advice on how people can better look after their physical health and mental wellbeing, and take care of their family’s health too.
Self care is crucial in addressing demand on health services. Community pharmacists have a frontline role in supporting people to look after their own minor short-term health needs as well as long term conditions, and provide advice on how to prevent avoidable conditions.
The Self Care Forum has produced several factsheets to help with this role. They are based on research which suggests people who generally self care for some of the time need confidence and reassurance about their condition. Often, they are unaware of the normal duration of their symptoms and need an explanation. People need reassurance that they are not experiencing something more serious, and an understanding of what those ‘red flag’ symptoms are. This information is contained in all our factsheets, which are freely available to print from the Self Care Forum’s website.
Increasingly people are looking for help and advice on nutrients, which is why the Self Care Forum recently launched a new factsheet on vitamin D. Public Health England advises adults in the UK to consider taking daily supplements containing 10mcg of vitamin D in the autumn and winter months. Supplements are also recommended year-round for infants and at-risk groups such as pregnant and breastfeeding women, people who are elderly, and/or housebound, and those who cover their skin for cultural reasons[i].
Work Jointly for Self Care Week
The Self Care Forum is keen for community organisations to work together to empower their local population to self care. As the whole health and social care sector moves towards a more integrated system, community pharmacies are ideally placed to be part of this. By joining forces with local surgeries, councils, clinical commissioning groups as well as schools, supermarkets, and local business, we can inspire people to better look after their physical health and mental wellbeing.
Last year more than 300 organisations participated in Self Care Week, reaching an estimated 22 million people. Community pharmacists are often viewed as the health professional on the high street and the first port of call for self-treatable conditions. The Self Care Forum hopes that more pharmacies will see the potential of getting involved in Self Care Week, which reinforces the work of community pharmacies in helping to educate and empower people to better look after their own health.
Award winning Bedminister Pharmacy in Bristol, which is a Healthy Living Pharmacy, took part in Self Care Week last year and found it helped customers understand how to cost-effectively manage their health and wellbeing. Ade Williams, the lead pharmacist, said another benefit was that customers had a greater awareness of the role and services pharmacy provides to support self care. He also said the experience “improved job satisfaction” amongst pharmacy staff.
To find out more and sign up for updates, visit the Self Care Forum website
Managing the Self Care Forum
Organisers of the Self Care Conference and National Self Care Week