Opinions

Self management top tip: make sure you still have your hopes and dreams

Written by: Dave Bertin, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland

Published: 25/07/2016

Dave Bertin

Dave from Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland shares his views on the benefits of self management.

Winners of the Self Management Partnership of the Year in 2015, Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland (This link will take you away from our website) and NHS Lanarkshire (This link will take you away from our website), worked together to produce a range of self management options that are accessible by people affected by stroke to build capacity and improve care and service provision. These included: individual support via professionals or peer supporters, setting up a lifestyle group for stroke, a facilitated Stroke Workbook, and development of a stroke-specific website: Selfhelp4Stroke (This link will take you away from our website).

Dave Bertin from Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland attended the Self Management Awards ceremony last year to accept the award along with others from the partnership. Below he shares his views on the benefits of self management, his tops tips and advice for anyone thinking of submitting an award nomination in 2016.

Name: Dave Bertin

Organisation: Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland

Job role: Voices Scotland Lead – oversee development and delivery of self management training, public involvement training and ongoing support.

Describe yourself in three words: Verbose, complex and slightly chaotic!

What would your ideal day look like? A work day would be… meeting new people who are dealing with major health issues in a positive manner. A “play day” would be… walking with Suzie and our dog on a beach, then a really good coffee (and cake!)

How did it feel to win the Self Management Partnership of the Year Award in 2015?

It was a really nice surprise because we all felt we put an awful lot of effort into it. Working in partnership can actually be more challenging than just doing stuff on your own. There was a lot of negotiation to start with and there were times we thought it would be easier if we were doing this on our own but it wouldn’t have been as good.

The simple fact that people saw it as a really good bit of work was just lovely. To be blunt, not everyone at the start saw it as positive and it took a bit of work to get everybody into it. It was really nice recognition for everybody who put so much work in and we all got a wee buzz out of it.

The theme of Self Management Week this year is Powerful Partnerships. You mentioned it can be challenging working in partnership with another organisation. Do you have any advice for new partnerships?

Stick at it because it’s worth it.

I’d also say it would have been helpful to realise at the beginning that it was going to take longer to start the actual work, as I’d call it. We had to negotiate and really sell the idea- at times it felt as though me and Campbell were salesmen. This was not the case with the immediate people involved, like Campbell and Ann, but we did have to persuade some people in management. Allowing time for that is a key thing that I probably hadn’t fully appreciated.

What, if anything, has changed in your role since winning the award?

It’s hard to know if this is a direct consequence of winning the award if I’m being precise but we found we got a big upswing in demand for the training that we do. Certainly, for some of those people, it was because they’d heard about the award or read about it through the ALLIANCE or something like that.

I think the demand seemed to come from the recognition and publicity we received around the award. Think winning the award did help and, rather naively, we actually hadn’t thought of that as a spin-off. It’s nice when people recognise what you do and to start getting an additional demand that was nice. That was an additional challenge as well trying to meet it!

What difference has self management made in your life?

I suppose in my life I use it in two ways. I use it for myself because I live with a long term health condition so I have to self manage it. For me, really, the key word is control. Living with a long term condition it can feel that, at times, like it controls me or that it can come up and whack me. But, generally speaking, I feel like I have control over it rather than it having control over me and that, for me, is what makes the biggest difference. It probably reduces some of my symptoms as well so I actually feel physically better. Control is the key thing for me.

What helps you to self manage?

That’s a really difficult question. I think, for me, understanding what’s going on and getting really good information helps me self manage. That was really important at the start.

Something that really motivates me is meeting people who self manage really well. I find that inspiring. I meet a lot of people who self manage really major health issues and I find that inspiring. The example of others is a big motivator for me.

Knowledge is key. Working with and meeting people who live with long term health conditions, and what I love about my work and my teaching, is getting the opportunity, of what I call, swapping top tips. When, over coffee, people say ‘when that happens to me I do that.’ That’s a way to learn about really practical stuff and I find it inspiring hearing from others about how they self manage.

How has your understanding of self management helped you in your life or in the work that you do?

It’s very blurry because I feel that my work is now very tied up with how I self manage in my life and I like that- I like the fact that, when I’m teaching and working with people, I feel that I’m partly a leader and partly one of the team or one of the group.

Self management gives me a structure to my day and to my life so it helps me and really gives me a focus. I believe in it passionately and it’s lovely to be able to share that passion with others through my work. I’m not sure if that’s answering your question but if I didn’t understand self management I wouldn’t be able to do any of that.

What do you think are the key benefits to self management?

For me it’s a combination of feeling better and feeling more confident. I know it may not be true for everyone, but self management helps me have better health.

Feeling more confident when I have periods of illness that I can manage it is a benefit to me. More importantly, my wife, who understandably worries about me when I’m unwell, feels more confident that we have a plan and we both know what to do. I think that takes away some of the worry and I think that’s very key.

What is your top tip to encourage people to self manage?

I don’t know if you followed the Euro football but the Welsh manager said something that I really thought summed up self management. He said that what you have to do is make sure that you still have your hopes and dreams, you know, because things can happen. I think it’s really important that you have that positive outlook. Being realistic but at the same time saying I have a dream or I have a hope that I can do something and going for it. Sometimes you can be surprised by what you can manage to do. Wales and Iceland did better than anyone thought they would and it was because they had hope and dreams.

What would you say to someone thinking about nominating a person or organisation in 2016?

This may sound obvious but I sometimes think people forget that the award has to be about self management. I’ve spoken to a few people who were unsuccessful and they were talking about the great work so and so or a particular group is doing but, for me, they aren’t actually promoting self management. They’re doing other good stuff but to needs to be clear this is really about self management.

The other thing is just not to be negative about it. Be proud of what you’ve done. I’ll be honest, when we were nominated I though “it’s just what we do” you know? So, at the start, I thought this isn’t anything special and I think that’s a risk that you underplay what you do. So, it sounds corny, but I think it’s about being proud. If you think you’ve done something good, then why not submit a nomination?

If you could sum up the 2015 awards ceremony in one work, what would it be?

Fun!

I think it was fun because we had the true partnership with us – it was Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, NHS Lanarkshire and, the most important people, the peer supporters. We were all there and everyone got a real buzz out of being part of the evening- I think we would have felt that way even if we hadn’t won.

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Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland

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