Self-care is a lifelong habit and culture.
It is the action individuals take for themselves and their families to stay healthy and take care of minor and long term conditions, based on their knowledge and the information available, and working in collaboration with health and social care professionals where necessary.
- Making healthy lifestyle choices such as physical activity and healthy eating, which allow the maintenance of good health and the prevention of illness.
- Making responsible use of all medicines (prescription and nonprescription).
- Self recognition of symptoms, which involves assessing and addressing symptoms, if necessary in partnership with a healthcare professional (not necessarily a doctor).
- Self-monitoring, which involves checking signs and symptoms for deterioration or improvement.
- Self-management, which includes being able to manage the symptoms of disease, either alone or in partnership with healthcare professionals or other people with the same health condition.
The benefits of self-care to society are empowered patients with higher self-esteem, improved wellness, longer life expectancy and reduced use of healthcare services.
“Health systems in all world regions are under pressure and cannot cope if they continue to focus on diseases rather than patients; they require the involvement of individual patients who adhere to their treatments, make behavioural changes and self-manage”
People should be given the information, education and tools they need to become more proactive in their healthcare and more confident to take good care of themselves. Health professionals, not least doctors and pharmacists, also have an important role in encouraging self-care.
“Every person has the right to health education that will assist him/her in making informed choices about personal health and about the available health services. The education should include information about healthy lifestyles and about methods of prevention and early detection of illnesses. The personal responsibility of everybody for his/her own health should be stressed. Physicians have an obligation to participate actively in educational efforts”.World Medical Association.
“Nowadays people are keen to accept more personal responsibility for their health status and to obtain as much sound information as possible from expert sources in order to help them make appropriate decisions in health care (…) Pharmacists have a key role to play in providing them with assistance, advice and information about medicines available for self-medication.”