Pharmacists are integral to self care. They can both motivate people to self care and support them in the process, which is why the Self Care Forum is delighted with the proposed motion of the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association:
“This Association believes that pharmacy students and pre-registration trainees should be made to be aware of the importance of self care (via the Self Care Forum)”.
We fully support the Association in this motion.
We all have a responsibility, to ourselves and to wider society, to live our best life and improve our prospects of being healthy, happy and fulfilled. Practicing self care by taking care of our physical health and mental wellbeing is part of this.
What is self care?
The Self Care Forum defines self care as “the actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness.”
We describe self care as a continuum beginning with daily choices such as brushing our teeth. It continues through things like healthy lifestyle choices such as exercise, reducing alcohol, not smoking and getting enough rest and moves further into the self-treatment of minor illnesses like coughs, colds, headaches. For people with long term conditions it is also about understanding your condition and how to manage it safely.
Whilst self care is about understanding how to look after your own health, it is also about recognising when it is time to seek advice from an expert. Self care is not no care; there are times when help should, or indeed must, be sought.
As pharmacy students it is important that you understand what to do to protect your own health and wellbeing by actively practicing self care. Learning is rewarding and important, but it is also pressurised, stressful and challenging. As you navigate your way through the ups and downs of student life, and beyond make sure you don’t forget to assess how you are feeling mentally and physically and self care appropriately.
How can you help people?
As a prospective pharmacist, you may find yourselves at the very heart of your local community. The Self Care Forum refers to community pharmacists as “Health Experts on the High Street” because they are well placed to provide people with essential health advice without the need to wait for an appointment. This accessibility means the health knowledge and skills of community pharmacists are extensively sought by everyone from teenagers, to new parents, to senior citizens and everyone in between. With 1.6million people visiting the pharmacy every day, it means community pharmacists have the potential to empower huge numbers of people to understand how to better look after their own health, how to prevent illness and how to manage health conditions at home.
Self Care Week
Self Care Week is an event organised by the Self Care Forum every November to communicate the benefits of self care. The initiative is growing; more than 600 organisations took part last year and it is a vehicle that pharmacists can use to proactively promote services to customers. Increasingly, local health organisations are joining forces to support the local population for initiatives such as Self Care Week and pharmacists may find it useful to collaborate with health centres, CCGs, local authorities, charities and other health focused organisations.
A useful case study is available from award winning Bedminster Community Pharmacy on its Self Care Week initiative.
Self Care Factsheets
Often, people visit the doctor for their minor conditions because they lack the confidence to self care. Pharmacists can provide reassurance their symptoms are nothing serious. The Self Care Forum’s response to this was to produce a series of factsheets that have 1) the normal duration of symptoms and 2) red flag symptoms. This resource is freely available for pharmacists to use as part of their interactions with customers. Recently the Self Care Forum have added the first in a new series of factsheets looking at certain aspects of nutrition; the first nutritional fact sheet is on the growing issue of vitamin D.
Online Self Care Aware Consultation Course
Another project in development is an online course intended to guide pharmacists, GPs and nurses in the best way to conduct self care aware consultations. Its aim is to help health professionals make the most of interactions with patients, customers, or the public, to support these groups and to give them the confidence and reassurance to look after their own health better. We hope it will be available sometime in July 2019.
What is the Self Care Forum?
The Self Care Forum is a charity and a resource for people-facing healthcare organisations to help empower people to take better care of their own and their family’s health. Its aim is to further the reach of self care and embed it in everyday life. Ultimately, we want self care to be everyone’s lifelong habit so that we can all live healthier, happier, more fulfilling lives.