The NHS is struggling. It is on its knees and there is no more money (so we’re told). Resources are not going to appear overnight; new doctors and nurses take time to train. Therefore, what we need is a change and that has to come from taking more responsibility ourselves. Technology that is available in most people’s pockets can help with this, but more important is a change in attitude.
There is a new development in health-based personalisation, to give people more choice, more control. In order to achieve this we, as individuals, will need to take more control of our lives. Use our resources to become better educated and more resilient.
This too will take time and education, but it can be done and relatively quickly. I am a 53 old male, with multiple health issues. I have a deteriorating muscular dystrophy and I am not ambulant, with very little movement and use a power chair. My condition causes multiple issues including weakness of heart, lungs and other essential organs. I am typing this on my phone, as it is the only way I can write as, for me, computers or laptops are impractical. I have a pace maker due to heart problems and polycythaemia (something to do with thick, sticky blood) and I also have diabetes. I live at home in a bungalow with the help of my seven carers, on a 24/7 rota, who I employ and manage via a personal health budget. I also volunteer as an advocate when I am able to.
My health used to be all over the place which involved being in and out of hospital almost weekly. Though my condition hasn’t improved, these days it is 90% better to manage as most consultant visits to the hospital are carried out remotely via my phone. I know I will never be cured but working with the NHS to improve my own care needs means that I am more in control. With this work, I also understand my symptoms better and can self-treat or implement care without the need to put more pressure on the NHS. The NHS call this NHS@home.
I have learnt a bit about my conditions via my GP and other consultants but also through talking and meeting other people with my conditions (online). We have managed to reduce visit or waiting times for both the medical teams and myself. I have a pacemaker monitor at home and, if I feel unwell, I know I can ring and they can check a report to tell me if everything is okay or not. Similarly, by having basic equipment and learning what is good and bad, and using these as a base line, allows me to monitor my health. I have a blood pressure monitor, oximeter, thermometer and blood sugar tests all at home, which I can use as required. This means I know the difference of when I may just need a rest or need intervention, or I can provide this information to practitioners to assist with decision-making.
Having a good local relationship with your GP, nurse practitioners and consultants is necessary. It takes time but once you show an interest I have found nearly all medical professionals helping to aid understanding…after all, it saves them time and money too! If I am not sure of anything, I can ring them, email them, sometimes even text, and usually get a response back the same day. The local surgery has ensured that I keep emergency medicines like prophylactic antibiotics at home. In my discussions with the NHS staff, I talk through my symptoms and start taking these the same day if I need to. This in itself saves a lot of time and hospital treatments as I can deliver the medication into my system faster before the chance of inevitable deterioration.
With some assistance for breathing, with a nippy and a cough assist for when I am choking and regular physio, we have most things covered.
I know I could sit here, feel like a burden and think that it is unfair but, honestly, thanks to the NHS and through the personalisation process, it has allowed me more independence, choice and control than I ever thought possible. I have a good life, am happy and most days I can give something back via my advocacy.
We all know the NHS is struggling; money is not going to appear overnight. Rather than clapping, you too can learn to take more control and be in charge of your own health and leave less of a strain on tight resources. Why not have a look and see what you can do to help the NHS by taking more control?
You can find out more about NHS @home here.