Why Health and Social Care Support for People with Long-Term Conditions Should be Oriented Towards Enabling Them to Live Well

Health Care Analysis 26 (1):48-65 (2018)
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Abstract

There are various reasons why efforts to promote “support for self-management” have rarely delivered the kinds of sustainable improvements in healthcare experiences, health and wellbeing that policy leaders internationally have hoped for. This paper explains how the basis of failure is in some respects built into the ideas that underpin many of these efforts. When support for self-management is narrowly oriented towards educating and motivating patients to adopt the behaviours recommended for disease control, it implicitly reflects and perpetuates limited and somewhat instrumental views of patients. It tends to: restrict the pursuit of respectful and enabling ‘partnership working’; run the risk of undermining patients’ self-evaluative attitudes ; limit recognition of the supportive value of clinician-patient relationships; and obscure the practical and ethical tensions that clinicians face in the delivery of support for self-management. We suggest that a focus on enabling people to live well with their long-term conditions is a promising starting point for a more adequate conception of support for self-management. We then outline the theoretical advantages that a capabilities approach to thinking about living well can bring to the development of an account of support for self-management, explaining, for example, how it can accommodate the range of what matters to people for living well, help keep the importance of disease control in perspective, recognize social influences on people’s values, behaviours and wellbeing, and illuminate more of the rich potential and practical and ethical challenges of supporting self-management in practice.

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