Working towards transforming the system the Self Management Fund was conceived as an innovation fund – to invest in the seeds of ideas about what self management support could look like for people living with long term conditions. It is there to build capacity in our communities and our understanding of what support people value on their self management journey.
In over ten years, we have come to learn that everyone has an immense capacity to self manage. We know there are barriers people encounter and many of these are structural and systemic. They are often barriers created by the unequal distribution of power, income and wealth in our society – the social determinants of health. They are also created by the way in which our services have been designed and delivered in our health and social care system.
In this context, what we have come to see is that the Self Management Fund invests in projects which evaluate extremely positively and yet they don’t often seed into mainstream services and support.
This is one of the reasons why in 2016 the ALLIANCE took the decision to offer up to five years of funding to support projects to embed their work into mainstream practice. This year, these projects are completing. This exhibition site has been developed to showcase their learning.
Notably, each of these projects demonstrates the importance of helping people to develop a foundation of wellbeing in their lives. This helps people feel better able to cope with life’s stressors. This suggests that self management support is relevant for all people and can play an important preventative role for our population health.
A key aspect of the learning has been of partnership working. We have heard that it takes considerable time to build relationships with health and social care professionals to ensure a joined up approach to the support available. It equally takes time to build relationships within the communities organisations are trying to support – especially within communities where the concept of self management is less familiar and where services have traditionally often not been developed in culturally sensitive ways.
We continue to hear about the power of peer support and that longer term funding has helped organisations develop their approach to peer support so that groups are better able to self organise.
These projects have demonstrated the capacity they can build within our health and social care system and in our communities when funding timescale is secure.
We will continue to work collectively to ensure self management approaches become embedded into local health and social care systems as central to the ongoing support available to people.