What do we mean by supported self-management?


Self-management is the name often given to a set of approaches which aim to enable people living with long term conditions to take control and manage their own health and put them in the "driving seat" of their care. (Scottish Government)

We all self-manage every day of our lives, making decisions and choices about our lifestyle. We often seek formal and informal help to make these choices. However once someone has been diagnosed with a long term respiratory condition they may need guidance to start the self-management process in relation to their health and wellbeing.

This will involve shared decision-making taking into account the person’s physical, social and emotional needs, building empathy and trust and involving family, friends and the community around them. The process of self-management is dynamic and changes as the person’s health, circumstances and priorities change.

Time spent with health professionals can be quite limited, for example a 10 minute GP appointment. So frequently people are more likely to discuss their concerns and make plans with those around them. It is important as health and social care professionals that we do not forget the importance of this aspect of the person’s life.


View text alternative

Useful understanding of the condition - Biological: This is the obvious part of a long-term health condition – the physical symptoms. It is here that traditional care has its focus – relieving the symptoms, offering and carrying out treatment, input by various health professionals etc. Reducing the physical impact of illness is a vital and essential element of care but it is just part of the story.

Adapting what is done in daily lives - Social: Physical illness will have a varied effect on peoples life but it will, in some way, alter the way they live and affect the way they interact with their family and communities. There will be an impact on their work, their hobbies and interests and possibly their financial situation.

Conditions and emotions impact on one another - Emotional: The process of being diagnosed is an emotional journey of illness, tests and (often) waiting. Coming to terms with the diagnosis is one that takes time. People differ as how well (and how) they deal with this. Some people will focus solely on the negative and will need help to see things in a more positive light.

Additional information
Information icon

Self-efficacy is the confidence to carry out a behaviour necessary to reach a desired goal. It is a key concept for self-management. The goals must come from the person’s own concerns and not from the health or social care professional who should act as guide through the process.