Frank lives with five long term conditions: asthma and stammering, which have been present since childhood, hypertension and Graves’ disease, diagnosed in 2006 and type 2 diabetes, which was diagnosed in 2009.
Frank has largely overcome his stammering and no longer sees this as a major challenge for him. He continues to experience symptoms of asthma, but it is generally well controlled through medication and self management.
With a relatively recent diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, Frank is still working out how best to deal with the condition.
What self management means for Frank
Frank feels that he has always adopted a self management approach, getting support from professionals where necessary to keep his conditions under control and to help him make informed decisions about the choices he faces.
It’s very important for me to be able to feel that I’m in control of the situation.
This helps Frank feel that he is very much in the driving seat, but he knows that there is a whole range of professionals on hand with support when it’s needed.
Self management places me in the centre of things.
Frank’s asthma and stammer no longer present major obstacles and are well under control. The management of Frank’s asthma is a team effort, with medication and self management both playing a role in controlling his condition. He sees a nurse once or twice a year for a general check-up and to review his medication. Frank knows that physical exertion can leave him out of breath and needing to use his inhaler, so is careful not to over-exert himself. Both the professionals and Frank agree that he manages his asthma well.
In terms of his stammer, speech and language therapists were important, although Frank’s view is that more specialists are needed. He has found the voluntary sector very helpful. For example, he has been involved in the British Stammering Association for a long time and has had a lot of support from it. With the organisation, Frank works on a project that has a grant from the LTCAS Self Management Fund. He is involved in offering advice and support to existing self help groups, and his colleagues are developing a toolkit of resources to help people who stammer to self manage.
While Frank values his right to manage his own conditions, he also recognises the support of professionals. He is now working with professionals to find the best combination of medication and lifestyle approaches to controlling his more recently diagnosed diabetes. This is important to help avoid associated health problems, but also to enable Frank to get on with his life.
Frank feels that everyone should take responsibility for their own lives as far as possible, whether they have a long term condition or not. When living with a long term condition, self management is always a team effort between individuals and professionals. Frank feels able to access sources of support whenever he needs to.
I’ve been encouraged to take the lead in managing my own care, and to approach professionals when I need their support.
Frank would never want to feel that he had surrendered to a primarily medical process, led by professionals. For Frank, self management is about living the life he wants to lead and is certainly nothing to be frightened of.
Self management is very much driven by a sense of what’s best for the individual.