The Self Care Alliance New Zealand is a not-for-profit network established in 2015 to bring together a diverse range of organisations interested in promoting self-care principles and initiatives to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities.
What is self-care?
Self-care has been defined by the World Health Organisation as "activities, individuals, families and communities undertake with the intention of enhancing health, preventing disease, limiting illness and restoring health. These activities are derived from knowledge and skills from the pool of both professional and lay experience. They are undertaken by lay people on their own behalf, either separately or in participative collaboration with professionals.”
Why is self-care important?
The 20th century’s revolution in healthcare saw a myriad of scientific and medical discoveries, technological advances in diagnostics, surgery and medicines, and the development of the healthcare professions. As a result, society witnessed the transfer of responsibility for a person’s health and wellness from the individual to the trained professional.
Despite this major change, the large bulk of care continues to be the things individuals and families do for themselves. Every day, in 1000s of New Zealand homes and workplaces, ordinary Kiwis are practising self care and looking after their own health.
As a country, we face major challenges to our health system from factors such as:
- An ageing population
- Changing disease profile - less infections and injuries. More long-term conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, cancers, arthritis, depression, anxiety and allergies.
- Unhealthy lifestyles - overall we are less active and eat and drink more than we need
- Comorbidities are increasing. This means people have multiple health conditions and onset is at a younger age.
- Healthcare costs are escalating and we can't afford all that can be done.
- Only about 50% of us take our medicines for long-term health conditions as prescribed or intended by 12 months.
- There are ongoing concerns about quality and safety issues with multiple medicines and treatments being just one example.
- Health inequalities are not improving.
- As a system we struggle to support people with the behaviour change that is needed for many health conditions eg quitting smoking, reducing obesity, choosing healthier foods, not over-eating, keeping active etc.
- The complexity of care has increased dramatically with comorbidities, multiple treatments/medicines and diagnostic options.
Studies have shown the benefits of enhanced self care for both families and communities can include:
- Reduction of service visits.
- Better health professional-patient relationships.
- Improved ability for patients to cope.
- Cost savings.
- Less time off work.
- Creates feeling of control.
- Reduces anxiety.
- Improves quality of life.
- Improves disease outcomes.
- Frees up health professional time.
These are some of the reasons the Self Care Alliance has been formed as a way to bring together diverse organisations with an interest in enhancing self-care right across the sector and society.
Self Care Allliance: Vision, mission and principles
To improve health outcomes for all New Zealanders, which will also decrease health expenditure and increase productivity.
A. Lead work in: policy & advocacy; workforce development; Self Care Week; and self care resources.
B. Be the umbrella organisation to pool knowledge and expertise, and foster collaboration.
C. Build a repository of expert advice and accurate information for stakeholders, media and the wider community.
SCANZ initiatives are New Zealand-focused, person and whanau-centred.
* We take an equitable, whole of care approach.
* Our solutions are evidence-based.
* Our partnerships are collaborative across a range of sectors.
* The focus of SCANZ workstreams is to improve self care knowledge and motivate every day Kiwis.
To achieve this, the Alliance will:
- Look at leading work in four areas: policy & advocacy; workforce development; Self Care Week; and self care resources.
- Become: A neutral space to pool knowledge and expertise; the umbrella organisation that fosters collaboration; a repository of expert advice and accurate information for stakeholders, media and the wider community.
Why a Self Care Alliance?
While self-care is not the whole answer to the rise in demand and associated healthcare costs, it is nevertheless a fundamental pillar of any mid to long-term reform of the health sector.
So the question is how might New Zealand develop and create a self-care culture in a consistent and coordinated way that maximises the benefits, not only for individuals and whanau, but also for all participants in the health and related sectors.
Implementing self-care is beyond the capacity of Government to mandate or any single group to bring about. It requires input and action by participants from all aspects of the health sector.
The role of the Alliance is to bring these diverse groups together to collaborate, pool knowledge and expertise, foster dialogue and facilitate and initiate efforts to support the implementation of self-care in New Zealand. It is also envisaged that it will be the umbrella body to connect and link self-care initiatives, promote policies and act as a repository of expert advice for stakeholders, media and the wider community. In other words become the go-to organisation for all aspects of self-care.