With an aging population, and growing problems such as obesity, long-term issues like diabetes and heart disease are becoming more prevalent. This is putting a massive strain on the NHS, which is already limited in terms of funding. However, encouraging patients to take more responsibility for managing their conditions could help alleviate this burden, and could also improve the health of the person concerned.
This is according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which has said professionals should promote self-management to patients with one or more long-term conditions. This will help people better understand these diseases and be an "equal partner in their long-term care". If actioned, this will have a significant impact also on the way nurses deliver care and work with people.
Services can be stretched and people with long-term conditions, ailments or diseases can have a limited amount of time with healthcare professionals. It is estimated that most patients in this position spend just five hours a year with a medical worker, while the rest of the time they are at home trying to cope and manage their disease on their own.
Encouraging them to take a more central role, through better education and support, will enable them to have more control over their health and not be reliant on getting to specific places to be able to manage their condition.
According to the RCN, this would be achieved through patient activation, which focuses on giving people the knowledge, skills and confidence to look after their own health and care. Evidence has suggested that patients who are more activated, by having better knowledge, skills and confidence to manage their condition, have a greater chance of having healthier behaviours, better health outcomes, better patient experience and lower costs.
However, nurses and other care professionals are not always trained for this situation, and may be unsure about how to give patients this knowledge and confidence. Traditionally, it is the role of these medical professionals to deliver the care, rather than sparking conversations about what the patient can do to help themselves.
NHS England has launched a survey that seeks to understand how clinicians, including nurses, view the patient's role in their own care.
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