The semantics of self management
- Written by: Barbara Flynn — Development Officer
- Published: 28th June 2023
Ever wondered why there’s no dash in ‘self management’? You’re not alone! And it turns out there’s more to it than first meets the eye.
Why is there no hyphen in the term ‘self management’? Is it written incorrectly? If not, then why does autocorrect always flag it? These are questions that have come up more than once for the Self Management Team, prompting deeper discussions on the actual definition of the term. In fact, it seems to be something of a rite of passage for new staff members, part of the induction to self management as a concept.
The Self Management Strategy for Long Term Conditions in Scotland, Gaun Yersel!, published in 2008, is an invaluable guide, providing the insight to answer these questions through its use of context, definitions, case studies and by highlighting the practicalities and benefits of self management. Upon reading these, it becomes clear that there is no dash as self management is not about ‘self-managing’ yourself. Unlike its cousin, ‘self-care’, self management is not something that you simply do by yourself, for yourself, but it is a concept underpinned by values and principles, of empowerment and equality. It refers to the entire framework which puts the individual at the centre. The person will receive tailored information and can work together with services to be in control of their health and wellbeing. Whilst self-care is certainly a component of self management, it is just that; one part of it. And this is the key difference.
Self management refers to the management of long term conditions but it is not exclusive to the medical field or the health and social care sector. It is relevant to everyday situations and forms part of the wider Scottish policy landscape. It echoes the values of realistic medicine and factors in an individual’s broader economic position by recognising that, as individuals should be in control of their health and wellbeing, the tools and support that can benefit them must be accessible, affordable, and available.
This is why it is important to appreciate the grammatical quirk in this deliberate lack of hyphen, and the values that come with it. When we talk about self management, the intention is for the individual to take centre stage, but without being a one-man band. The use of a dash in ‘self management’ would reduce the whole framework into the actions of one person: you. However, as Gaun Yersel! makes clear, self management does not require you to ‘go it alone’.
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