Self-care means keeping fit and healthy, knowing how to take medicines or treat minor conditions and seeking help when you need it. If you have a long-term condition, self-care is about understanding that condition and how best to live with it.
Most people are very capable of looking after themselves most of the time, self-treating when it's safe and knowing where and when to seek help when they need it.
A GP appointment or a visit to A&E is sometimes unavoidable but there are still millions of visits to these services every year for minor illnesses which could have been treated elsewhere.
We all have a responsibility to look after our own health and wellbeing and to use NHS services wisely. We've put together some advice to help you make the best choices and keep yourself and your family safe and well. Head over to the 'Healthy living' page for more information.
The NHS website (www.nhs.uk) is also a great source of information, tried and trusted by doctors. It can help you check your symptoms to see if you need further treatment, better understand your health so you can stay well, find out what services are available and get advice on how to care for yourself when you do become ill.
Getting the right medicines
Following national guidance, we are encouraging local people to buy common medicines over the counter at a pharmacy or shop, rather than visiting their GP for a prescription. It's easier, quicker and cheaper for you - and for the NHS. For example, did you know that it costs the NHS more than £35 to prescribe antihistamines through a GP appointment, but you can buy your own for just 99p? You can read our position statement in full for more information.
It's a good idea to make sure you are always ready to manage common illnesses. Why not set up your own home medicine cabinet so that you have things on hand when you need them? Click here to download our interactive guide for ideas on what to buy.
Pharmacists can assess your symptoms, advise you on how to care for yourself and help you buy the medicines you need. You don't need an appointment and many pharmacies are open late and at weekends. Click here to find out more about what you can expect from your pharmacy team.
With a well-stocked medicine cabinet, advice from your local pharmacist and plenty of rest, you can look after yourself and your loved ones effectively at home for a large range of common illnesses such as minor aches and pains, coughs and colds, dry skin, hay fever and allergies, dry or sore eyes, indigestion or upset stomach, head lice, athlete's foot and more.
Choose self-care for life
At our Shaping Health and Care engagement events, you have told us you are very keen to help the local NHS by using services wisely and choose self-care when you can but we could do better at letting you know where to go and what to do when you are unwell.
To help you choose self-care, we produced a series of videos on how you can treat some common minor conditions at home or with support from local services without having to visit your GP.
Having a basic knowledge of first aid can save lives and it can help you to understand when someone needs to go to the hospital or when they might just need a bandage, a cup of tea and a few minutes to recover.
Basic first aid courses are run regularly in most areas around the UK. St John Ambulance and British Red Cross provide a selection of courses and you can also download a free first aid app for life-saving advice at your fingertips.