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How to embed Supported Self-Management



Why do it?

(This information has been abridged from the NHSE Supported self-management summary guide.)

People want to have choice and control over the way their care is planned and delivered, based on ‘what matters’ to them and their individual strengths, needs and preferences. Self-management is the usual care for people living with long term conditions. Although they tend to spend relatively little time in contact with the health and care system, more than four in ten people living with a long-term condition do not have the knowledge, skills and confidence to manage their health and wellbeing on a daily basis. 

As a result, they often have a lower quality of life and make more use of primary care and emergency services than those who are more knowledgeable, skilled and confident. In research, people who had the highest knowledge, skills and confidence had 19% fewer GP appointments and 38% fewer A&E attendances than those with the lowest levels of 'patient activation'. 

Supported self-management significantly increases the likelihood that people will adopt behaviours and approaches that contribute to their health and wellbeing. Peer support can help people feel more knowledgeable, confident and happy, and less isolated and alone. 

A 2018 Briefing* from the Health Foundation demonstrated that giving people the skills to better manage their long-term conditions had 38% fewer emergency admissions than the patients who were least able to. They also had 32% fewer attendances at A&E, were 32% less likely to attend A&E with a minor condition that could be better treated elsewhere and had 18% fewer general practice appointments.

* Find the Briefing in the Resources box below

How to do it

Lessons for implementing self management support

Image: The Health Foundation Practical Guide to Self Management Support 2015

To improve people’s ability to self-manage, we measure knowledge, skills and confidence by using tools such as the Patient Activation Measure® (PAM®) and provide tailored interventions to improve activation for those who would benefit most.

Supported self-management means ensuring approaches are systematically put in place to help build knowledge, skills and confidence.

These approaches include: 

  • health coaching – helping people gain and use the knowledge, skills and confidence to become active participants in their care so that they can reach their self-identified health and wellbeing goals 
  • self-management education – any form of formal education or training for people with long-term conditions focused on helping them to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to manage their own health care effectively 
  • peer support – a range of approaches through which people with similar long-term conditions or health experiences support each other to better understand their conditions and aid recovery or self-management. Peer support may 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.


What needs to be in place locally

Supported self-management in action

Peer support for people with mental health needs:

Between 6 pm and 11 pm every day of the year people can attend the Cavern café in Gloucester to gain support with their social and emotional wellbeing.  Volunteers work alongside community support staff to support up to 60 people a night with one to one chats over coffee and creative workshops. Peer support is a very much valued part of the Cavern’s offer. 


Training, development and best practice resources: