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What Is Supported Self-management?

What is supported self-management? Read to learn more.

Supported self-management (also called SSM for short) happens when people with long-term health conditions are supported to develop the knowledge, skills, confidence, and support they need to manage their conditions effectively and in the context of their everyday life. Ultimately, it is about empowering people to have choice and control over their personal care planning.

There are four main parts to supported self-management:

1. Patient Activation Measure (PAM)

Sometimes your GP or healthcare professional uses a questionnaire (as a tool) to find out what you already know about your health condition and how confident you are to manage it.

This is important because we know that when you feel more able to manage your health condition, you feel better all around and needless visits to the hospital.

The Patient Activation Measure gives you a score that places you at one of four levels. People at level one, describe having little knowledge and confidence to manage their condition on a day-to-day basis and often feel overwhelmed. People at level four have the most knowledge, skills, and confidence. Knowing how you feel about managing your health condition, helps health and care professionals to personalize your services which can make a huge difference to you.

Hear Zainab and Ed describe the Patient Activation Measure in the video above.

2. Health Coaching

Health coaching is a one on one conversation with a health coach. Health coaches are trained professionals who are there to inspire, guide, and motivate you to make positive health choices.

The health coach will listen to you and help you address your health issues by helping you identify, and then work towards, some health goals. It’s important to remember, that these should be your health goals and should reflect any behaviour or lifestyle changes you have decided to make. Goals can include things like:

  • Get adequate rest daily
  • Get regular physical activity
  • Eat more whole-grain breads and cereals
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  • Be free of dependence on tobacco, illicit drugs or alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Spend quality time with family and friends daily

People can have up to six health coaching sessions. Each session typically lasts 45-60 minutes and provides a safe space for you to have an open and honest conversation about your health circumstances and your goals. This is an example of the shift in relationship between health professionals and people who use health and care services, which is at the heart of personalised care.

3. Self-Management Education

Self-management education can be any form of education or training for people with long-term conditions. It’s another way to help you develop more knowledge, skills and confidence to manage your health condition more effectively. Self-management education can be accessed online, on a 1 to 1 basis or through a group community programme.

For example, the British Lung Foundation offers people a self-management programme that helps them understand Chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disease (COPD) and the physical and emotional impact. Participants receive information on treatments, medication and inhaler techniques. The programme also takes a personalised approach to smoking cessation and refers people to appropriate services (e.g. counselling, smoking cessation, long-term exercise etc).

Joan’s story explains how she accessed self-management education and the difference it made to her

4. Peer Support

There are different types of peer support, but they all bring people together with shared experiences to support each other. The aim is to provide a space where you feel accepted and understood and where everyone’s experiences are equally important. We all know how talking to people in similar ‘shoes’ can be really helpful.

Peer support can be formal or informal. It can be delivered by trained peer support staff and volunteers, or through more informal, ad hoc support among peers with lived experience. It can also be online or face to face.

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Personalised Care: Peer Leadership Foundation - Step One

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