A Sunderland health and social care programme will help Sunderland look after itself more effectively by bringing together a wide range of organisations to coordinate self-care in the city

All Together Better Sunderland, an NHS ‘vanguard’ that is developing new ways of working by joining up health and social care for those who need it most, has been selected to receive intensive support to accelerate the involvement of people and communities in the management of their own health and wellbeing.

The project will see All Together Better co-ordinate city-wide initiatives that educate people about how they can better look after themselves and the people they care for, to help prevent conditions from developing as a result of lifestyle decisions like poor diet and exercise. It will also see extended support for those who may have a condition, for example diabetes or a heart condition but need some help in managing it better, giving them more control over their own health.

In addition the project will also focus on carers, providing better support and information for those people and families who are looking after others who would benefit from more practical assistance and support.

All Together Better was chosen to run with self-care because it is designed to concentrate efforts on the people who need the most help and support in the city – usually those with complex conditions and the frail and elderly.

Jennifer Wilkie, project manager for the self-care project said: “Self-care isn’t a new thing. We are conscious that a range of organisations across the city, including all the partners working with us as part of the vanguard already have effective initiatives and campaigns promoting self-care and self-management, but our aim is to bring them all together around the table to discuss, share and develop a city-wide self-care programme that will ultimately benefit the whole population.

“We are not just looking at people who are already managing their own or a family member’s health, but want to look at the whole community working with a range of organisations and groups – all to reinforce the benefits and an understanding of self-care.”

Through the national empowering people and communities initiative, which was announced last month [Wed 25 January] at the National Voices Annual Conference, All Together Better Sunderland will receive extra assistance to help progress the work across the city.

Samantha Jones, Director – New Care Models Programme, said: “Building healthy communities and supporting self-care are central to work of the new care models programme. We are excited to be working more closely with All Together Better and watching them develop and build on their existing work that is putting people much more in control of their own health. As well as supporting them with their activities, the new care models programme will be helping them share their work more widely across the country to benefit more people and other health and care systems.”

The benefits of self-care and self-management include:
• Understanding of the impact of your behaviour of your health and wellbeing
• Prevention of disease and illness
• Increased sense of wellbeing
• Increased productivity, sense of engagement, and connectedness
• Healthy, balanced diet and therefore better maintenance of weight
• Improved longevity and quality of life
• A better understanding of your condition, or that of the person you care for
• Spotting changes that could become an issue before things get worse and helping people to know what to do
• Understanding how to manage medication and treatment plans
• Exploring what aids or equipment that might help – including new technology.

Jennifer added: “While there is some amazing work being done across the city we know there are both gaps and duplication of effort so, by working together and joining up with other charities and organisation, we know we can provide a much more effective and efficient support network for everyone in Sunderland.”