The Fono

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Improving wellness while living with long-term conditions

The 7 principles of self-management for long-term conditions

Do you have a long-term condition/s such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, mental illness or kidney disease? As our population ages and people are increasingly managing more than one condition, The Fono’s role in supporting people to self-manage is a critical part of how we support our communities. Here we provide some tips / principles for self-management of long-term conditions (LTCs).

LTCs, sometimes called ‘non-communicable diseases (NCDs)’ or ‘chronic conditions’, are any ongoing or recurring conditions that can have a significant impact on people’s lives.

These include diabetes, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, mental illness, chronic pain, chronic kidney disease, dementia and others. The frequency of LTCs is rising in New Zealand.

What is self-management?

Self-management refers to any way in which a person with an LTC manages their condition by themselves. It offers a way for people with long term conditions to create a more sustainable way of living with a health condition and aims to improve their overall wellness.

The Fono’s Manager of Practices Aivi Puloka says “self-management is an empowering tool for the patient to be comfortable about managing their condition. This includes improving their wellness and control of their long term condition.”

“Ultimately the status of their long term condition is clinically improved as well as quality of life with the support of our healthcare staff.”

Learning and practising self-management is an ongoing process; it is not achieved in a single step. The process is about making informed choices, adapting new perspectives and skills that can be applied to new problems as they arise, practicing new health behaviours and maintaining or regaining emotional stability to manage LTCs.

The 7 principles of self-management

  1. Understand your condition/s

  • How serious is your condition and how much more serious can it become?
  • How does your condition effect your quality of life?
  • What are the triggers for your condition?
  • Do you understand what treatment options are available?
  • What lifestyle changes can you make to help manage your condition?
  • Do you understand the advice and explanations (verbal and written) provided by your health professional?
  • Can you communicate with your health professional effectively? Do you know what questions to ask your health professional and are you comfortable asking them?
  1. Follow your treatment plan (care plan) agreed with your health professionals

  • What medication are you on and do you understand the dosage?
  • Are you following the recommended diet guidelines (if any) for your condition?
  • Are you following the recommended exercises (if any) for your condition?
  • Are you managing your stress and the emotional impacts caused by your condition?
  • Are you seeking help from your available support networks when needed?
  1. Actively share in decision-making with your health professionals

  • What aspects of your life will hinder your progress in manging your condition? E.g. physical limitations, allergies to certain foods or medications, your culture, your employment, your life stage, your family etc?
  • What aspects of your life will help your progress in managing your condition? E.g. your culture, your job, your family and support networks etc?
  • How can you adapt your care plan with your health professional to accommodate these aspects? For example do you have a family support person that can support you / help you when you speak with your health professional?
  • Are your needs changing as your condition changes?
  1. Monitor and manage the signs and symptoms of your condition

  • Do you understand what causes ‘flare ups’ of your condition?
  • What are the symptoms of your condition?
  • Can you spot the symptoms early (such as blood sugar levels for diabetes) before they develop into more serious symptoms?
  • How should you react to the symptoms? What immediate changes do you need to make to manage them?
  • Are you tackling the psychological impact of flare-ups or progression?
  1. Manage the impact of your condition on your physical, emotional and social life

  • Are you managing your stress / emotional stability effectively?
  • Do your family / friends understand the impacts of your condition
  • Are they able to support you to manage your emotions and stress levels such as planning outings or visiting you?
  • Is the physical impact of your condition affecting your ability to maintain a healthy weight? What can be done to manage this impact? 
  1. Adopt a lifestyle that promotes health

  • Have you adopted the recommended diet / nutrition (if any) for your condition?
  • Have you adopted the recommended physical activity / exercises (if any) for your condition?
  • Have you adopted the recommended lifestyle changes (if any) for your condition such as quitting smoking?
  • Have you adopted the recommended guidelines for stability of your emotional state / mental health and well being
  1. Access support services and have the confidence and ability to use them

  • Do you understand what support is available to you?
  • Do you know how to access this support and ask for help when needed?
  • Are you mentally confident to access this support?
  • Are you physically able to access this support (such as time and transportation)

How can The Fono help?

The Fono is here to help our communities living with LTC’s and support you to self-manage your condition/s, providing a range of support around:

Health literacy

Enabling people to make informed choices and take care of their own health.

Cultural relevance

Delivering self-management programmes that are culturally appropriate.

Behaviour change

Supporting you to change your health behaviour through; active involvement in problem solving, goal setting and written action plans; lifestyle changes, including eating a healthier diet, being physically active and stopping smoking; informed decision-making; medication management; stress management and positive mental health.

Contact us for more information

Chronic disease management