Improving wellness while living with long-term conditions

Do you have a long-term `condition`s such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, mental illness or kidney disease? As our population ages and people are increasingly managing more than one `condition`, Auckland based innovative health organisation, The Fono is aware how crucial their role is in supporting the people in their communities to self-manage.

 

Here they provide some tips / principles for self-management of long-term `condition`s (LTCs).

 

 

LTCs, sometimes called non-communicable diseases (NCDs) or chronic `condition`s, are any ongoing or recurring `condition`s that can have a significant impact on people’s lives.

 

These include diabetes, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, mental illness, chronic pain, chronic kidney disease, dementia and others. The frequency of LTCs is rising in New Zealand.

 

What is self-management?

 

Self-management refers to any way in which a person with an LTC manages their `condition` by themselves. It offers a way for people with long term `condition`s to create a more sustainable way of living with a health `condition` and aims to improve their overall wellness.

 

The Fono’s Manager of Practices Aivi Puloka says “self-management is an empowering tool for the patient to be comfortable about managing their `condition`. This includes improving their wellness and control of their long term `condition`.”

 

“Ultimately the status of their long term `condition` is clinically improved as well as quality of life with the support of our healthcare staff.”

 

Learning and practising self-management is an ongoing process; it is not achieved in a single step. The process is about making informed choices, adapting new perspectives and skills that can be applied to new problems as they arise, practicing new health behaviours and maintaining or regaining emotional stability to manage LTCs.

 

The 7 principles of self-management

  • Understand your `condition`s

    • How serious is your `condition` and how much more serious can it become?
       
    • How does your `condition` effect your quality of life?
       
    • What are the triggers for your `condition`?
       
    • Do you understand what treatment options are available?
       
    • What lifestyle changes can you make to help manage your `condition`?
       
    • Do you understand the advice and explanations (verbal and written) provided by your health professional?
       
    • Can you communicate with your health professional effectively? Do you know what questions to ask your health professional and are you comfortable asking them?
       
  • Follow your treatment plan (care plan) agreed with your health professionals

    • Are you following the recommended diet guidelines (if any) for your `condition`?
       
    • Are you following the recommended exercises (if any) for your `condition`?
       
    • Are you managing your stress and the emotional impacts caused by your `condition`?
       
    • Are you seeking help from your available support networks when needed?What medication are you on and do you understand the dosage?
       
  • Actively share in decision-making with your health professionals

    • What aspects of your life will hinder your progress in manging your `condition`? E.g. physical limitations, allergies to certain foods or medications, your culture, your employment, your life stage, your family etc?
       
    • What aspects of your life will help your progress in managing your `condition`? E.g. your culture, your job, your family and support networks etc?
       
    • How can you adapt your care plan with your health professional to accommodate these aspects? For example do you have a family support person that can support you / help you when you speak with your health professional?
      Are your needs changing as your `condition` changes?
       
  • Monitor and manage the signs and symptoms of your `condition`

    • Do you understand what causes ‘flare ups’ of your `condition`?
       
    • What are the symptoms of your `condition`?
       
    • Can you spot the symptoms early (such as blood sugar levels for diabetes) before they develop into more serious symptoms?
       
    • How should you react to the symptoms? What immediate changes do you need to make to manage them?
       
    • Are you tackling the psychological impact of flare-ups or progression?
       
  • Manage the impact of your `condition` on your physical, emotional and social life

    • Are you managing your stress / emotional stability effectively?
       
    • Do your family / friends understand the impacts of your `condition` 
       
    • Are they able to support you to manage your emotions and stress levels such as planning outings or visiting you?
       
    • Is the physical impact of your `condition` affecting your ability to maintain a healthy weight? What can be done to manage this impact?
       
  • Adopt a lifestyle that promotes health

    • Have you adopted the recommended diet / nutrition (if any) for your `condition`?
       
    • Have you adopted the recommended physical activity / exercises (if any) for your `condition`?
       
    • Have you adopted the recommended lifestyle changes (if any) for your `condition` such as quitting smoking?
       
    • Have you adopted the recommended guidelines for stability of your emotional state / mental health and well being

       
  • Access support services and have the confidence and ability to use them

    • Do you understand what support is available to you?
       
    • Do you know how to access this support and ask for help when needed?
       
    • Are you mentally confident to access this support?
       
    • Are you physically able to access this support (such as time and transportation


How can The Fono help?

 

The Fono is here to help our communities living with LTC’s and support you to self-manage your `condition`/s, providing a range of support around:

 

Health literacy


Enabling people to make informed choices and take care of their own health.

 

Cultural relevance


Delivering self-management programmes that are culturally appropriate.

 

Behaviour change


Supporting you to change your health behaviour through; active involvement in problem solving, goal setting and written action plans; lifestyle changes, including eating a healthier diet, being physically active and stopping smoking; informed decision-making; medication management; stress management and positive mental health.

 

About The Fono

 

The Fono provides affordable services including medical, dental, pharmacy, health promotion, social services, education and Whanau Ora. They deliver a combination of these services across five locations. With combined experience of five separate clinics stretching over 80 years, The Fono aims to be a leader in health for the people who need it the most, fostering well, safe, vibrant and informed communities.

 

Click here to view The Fono’s website
 

 

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