Find out more about self-management support and check out some assessment tools to help you think about what needs to be done to embed the approach in your service.   

What is self-management support?

For people with long-term conditions, self-management involves caring for their body and managing their illness, adapting everyday activities and roles to their condition, and dealing with the emotions that arise from having the condition.

Self-management support is the assistance that caregivers – including doctors, nurses, other health professionals, peers and family members – give to people with long-term conditions to help them manage their health and have a high quality of life.

Self-management support can be viewed in two ways:

  • as a portfolio of techniques and tools that help patients choose healthy behaviours
  • as a fundamental transformation of the patient-caregiver relationship into a collaborative partnership.

Techniques and tools

The techniques and tools that help people choose healthy behaviours can range from providing information about a condition to more proactive activities designed to change attitudes toward self-management and motivate behaviour changes.

Approaches can focus primarily on helping people improve their technical skills in managing their condition (such as insulin management) or on building their confidence to manage their condition (self-efficacy), including knowing when and how to seek help from health professionals. 

Evidence suggests that patients benefit most from 'proactive' self-management support that focuses on helping them build confidence in their ability to manage their conditions. These activities may include peer support programmes, group education, motivational interviewing and telephone coaching. 

Adopting a self-management support approach

Over time self-management support should become integrated into the way teams work and is 'just the way we do things', but you will need to dedicate some time and resources at the outset to setting it up and establishing it.

A good starting point is to think about whether your team and service are ‘ready’ to begin to implement self-management support and there are a number of approaches to assess an organisation’s readiness for change and an individual’s starting point. These include the PCRS-UK tool tested by the Year of Care to assess organisational readiness to support self-management, and the CS-PAM, which assesses a clinician’s beliefs about the importance of patient self management.

Further reading

Research report

Evidence: Helping people help themselves

May 2011

This rapid review compiles evidence about the effects of supporting self-management on people’s...

Learning report

Ideas into action: person-centred care in practice

October 2014

What to consider when implementing shared decision making and self-management support as part of a...

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