What is self-care?
Self-care means keeping fit and healthy, as well as knowing how to take medicines, treat minor ailments and seek help when you need it.
If you have a long-term condition, self-care is about understanding that condition and how to live with it. Many patients make appointments to see their doctor or nurse, when they could be using a well-stocked medicines cabinet or visiting a local pharmacist to treat their symptoms – and getting the same help or advice a lot quicker.
Self-care is the very best choice you can make for treating very minor illnesses and injuries.
Why is self-care good for you?
Empowering people with the confidence and information to look after themselves when they can, and visit the GP when they need to, gives people greater control of their own health and encourages healthy behaviours that help prevent ill health in the long-term.
In many cases people can take care of their minor ailments, reducing the number of GP consultations and enabling GPs to focus on caring for higher risk patients, such as those with comorbidities (more than one condition), the very young and elderly, managing long-term conditions and providing new services.
How to self-care
Even a minor illness and ailments such as colds, headaches and diarrhoea can disrupt your life. Be prepared for most common ailments by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home. Always follow the directions on medicine packets and information leaflets, and never take more than the stated dose. If you have questions about any of these medicines or you want to buy them, ask your local pharmacist. They can give advice or, where appropriate, medicines that can help to clear up the problem. Instead of booking an appointment with your GP, you can see your local pharmacist any time: just walk in.
Always keep medicines out of the sight and reach of children. A high, lockable cupboard in a cool, dry place is ideal. Regularly check the expiry dates on a medicine. If a medicine is past its use-by date, don’t use it or throw it away. Take it to your pharmacy, where it can be disposed of safely.