Supported self-care is key to improving health and wellbeing; reducing hospital admissions

16/11/2017

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Projects in the East of England have proven that a combination of supported self-care is empowering people to take back control of their health and wellbeing.

 We are delighted that these collaborative projects have had such a positive impact on community health in just one year, and we anticipate that our six step guide to implementing supported self-care will help many others to set up similar programmes in the near future.

According to the Kings Fund, an estimated 15 million people in the UK are living with long term conditions (LTCs) and the cost to the NHS is close to 70% of its overall budget. Many people do not feel confident in self-managing their conditions, but through providing a combination of education, peer support, structured exercise and remote monitoring technology, people build the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to keep themselves well.

The more activated people are, the less likely they are to require support from health care professionals, reducing costs for the NHS and social care, through fewer unplanned hospital admissions and delayed onset of frailty.  Evidence shows that just a one-point change in activation can result in a 1.7% reduction in likely hospitalisation for someone with a LTC. People who are more activated are more likely to adopt positive behaviours and have clinical indicators within a normal range, resulting in 8% lower costs than those less activated in the first year of support and 21% less in the second year.

Projects in the East of England have proven that this combination of supported self-care is empowering people to take back control of their health and wellbeing.

The Eastern Academic Health Science Network (Eastern AHSN), one of 15 AHSNs in England, has been supporting several collaborative projects in the Eastern region, one of which - Active+ for cancer, has recently been declared a finalist for ‘Supporting individuals to take control of their care’ in the Sustainable Healthcare: Patients as Partners awards. Early evaluation of the Patient Activation Measure (PAM) results from Active+ participants demonstrated positive change in activation levels and an increased understanding of their conditions over an eight-week period.

Macmillan’s Move More Report states that “there is a growing body of evidence that suggests physical activity can reduce cancer patients’ chances of dying from the disease. Breast and prostate cancer patients can reduce their risk of dying from the disease by 30–40% if they do recommended levels of activity, compared to those doing less than one hour a week.”

“Caring for people long term, after their treatment on the NHS, is only going to increase. We have a system at the moment that isn’t working efficiently, we’re going to try to do more and innovation has to be the answer. What is being done here could act as a blueprint for other organisations to use," says Dr Adam McGeoch, Consultant Oncologist, Hinchingbrooke Hospital, North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust

 "When you are told that you have a life-threatening condition, it damages both your confidence and self-esteem. The Active + programme brought back my confidence. Our involvement with this has given us back our lives, and with all the walking I do, my dogs must be the fittest in Cambridgeshire!” comments Colin, cancer patient and participant in the Active + programme.

To coincide with national self-care week this week, Eastern AHSN has released a ‘Six step guide’ to help other health and care providers adopt and implement the Active+ programme. Activehas also been rolled out for cardiac patients and can be adapted to support many other LTCs such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), arthritis and so on.

The project in Huntingdonshire has also demonstrated that local community organisations, such as district councils and charities have a key role to play in supporting enhanced self-care. Through working closely with their communities, support can be effectively tailored to local need and existing community assets utilised, such as local leisure centres to provide classes, developing a model which is not only financially sustainable but cost saving to the health and care system.

“The NHS provides an excellent level of treatment for people with long term conditions and is working with patient groups, the voluntary sector, and the general public to identify innovative, effective and efficient means of delivering joined-up services. This will work in various different ways, according to the needs of different parts of the country. Utilising resources available in the community to keep us healthy is the way forward. I am proud that here in the Huntingdon constituency we have projects like Active+ that are leading the way and helping people live longer, healthier lives," says Jonathan Djanogly MP, Huntingdon.

 “We are delighted that these collaborative projects have had such a positive impact on community health in just one year, and we anticipate that our six step guide to implementing supported self-care will help many others to set up similar programmes in the near future," adds Victoria Corbishley, Director, Transformation Unit, Eastern AHSN.

These projects form part of the region’s Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships’ Plans (STPs), which set out how local health and care systems will meet the challenges of the future. Eastern AHSN is supporting delivery of the STP as trusted leaders to change care through innovation.

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