Self-Care – the missing piece of the preventive health puzzle

To mark International Self-Care Day 2021, the Australian Self-Care Alliance has today released a position paper highlighting the essential role of the consumer and self-care in effective preventative health, and called for the re-orientation of Australia’s health and care systems to support a more person-engaged model of care.

The paper, Consumer engagement and empowerment: the role of self-care in effective preventive health action, argues that despite Australians’ growing capacity and enthusiasm to engage in greater preventive health action, our current healthcare structures and culture do not encourage or enable people to fully participate in preventive health and their own health management.

By examining the effectiveness of self-care in previous successful preventive health initiatives and Australia’s largely successful COVID-19 suppression strategy, the paper concludes that structural and cultural support for greater self-care should be defining characteristics of Australia’s preventive health and care systems.

Mitchell Institute’s Head of Health Policy, and member of the Expert Steering Committee for the National Preventive Health Strategy, Professor Rosemary Calder AM explains;

“COVID-19 has demonstrated how, by empowering individuals with an understanding of how to prevent illness or infection and engaging them as equal partners in their own health management, we can reduce preventable health problems.

Self-care is the most logical, cost-effective and comprehensive approach to help drive consumer engagement and empowerment in health care, and, if properly supported, could be one of the strongest influences in preventive health awareness, engagement, and action by individuals.

The Australian Government has an opportunity, through the National Preventive Health Strategy, to implement the necessary structural and cultural changes needed to foster and capitalise on this capacity and enthusiasm for greater self-care, and address the barriers limiting participation.

It’s time for a systematic approach to build self-care capability and enhance self-care activity in all aspects of health and healthcare.”

About the position paper

Last year, the Alliance highlighted the role of self-care in infectious diseases, endorsing the Mitchell Institute’s report, Self-care and health: by all, for all. Learning from COVID-19. The report, authored by Maria Duggan, illustrated how self-care offers an explicit strategy for combating COVID-19, and building a more resilient and healthy population.

To mark International Self-Care Day 2021, this paper examines how engaging, supporting, and empowering individuals to participate in the proactive management of their health through greater self-care is essential to effective preventive health action and should be reflected in all aspects of Australia’s health care and preventive health services.

About the Australian Self-Care Alliance

The Australian Self-Care Alliance is a collaboration between healthcare consumers, health promotion charities, policy experts and industry partners that promotes the adoption of self-care and its implementation as a core element of a sustainable National Health and Care Sector policy for Australia.

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