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The Self-Care Academic Research Unit (SCARU) at Imperial College London

In a recent horizon scanning exercise, the School of Public Health recognised the rising importance of self-care as a means to empower patients and support an NHS fit for 21st Century Britain, identifying ‘self-care’ as an important area of academic interest. Further to participation in the annual Self-Care Conference, the Department of Primary & Public Health recently met with Dr Pete Smith OBE (Co-Chair of the Self Care Forum) and Dr David Webber (Head of the international Self Care Foundation) with a view to help establish Imperial College as an academic base of self-care in England.

The Self Care Forum is a national charity that seeks to develop and promote self-care throughout life and work, and encourages the recognition and embedding of self-care in all our lives. It defines self-care as the actions that individuals take for themselves and on behalf of or with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness. This includes Health Literacy. The International Self Care Foundation continues to develop evidence-based self-care concepts and practices, whilst promoting the role of self-care in health worldwide.

This tripartite collaboration will ensure that Self-Care is researched as a cross-cutting theme in the contemporary setting for patient benefit, and will strive to make the absolute case for self-care to inform policy makers via an extensive portfolio of research activity. SCARU will help identify how empowering patients via increased health literacy would result in improved outcomes, lower dependency on NHS resources, whilst also identifying key evidence-based recommendations for the consideration of policy makers.

Activity at the newly established Self Care Academic and Research Unit (SCARU) will focus primarily on producing evidence to advance our understanding of self-care in the context of 21st century healthcare by research in the following domains:

  • Evidence synthesis via development of high quality protocols to investigate various aspects related to Self-Care and how this links to empowerment, health literacy, and resilience in the community
  • Understanding how Self-Care can benefit the wider health economy (starting with England, but also looking at European and international examples)
  • Health economic modelling and cost benefit analysis of Self-Care initiatives from the perspective of funding of outcomes as opposed to activities
  • Social science/Qualitative research to better understand patient/GP/Commissioner knowledge, attitude & perspectives (KAP) in relation to Self-Care
  • Explore the use of E&M Health Technologies, digital health & wearable tech in supporting Self-Care in the new setting
  • Service evaluations and audits of local/national importance- including HQIP
  • Self-Care in mental health theme
  • Policy reviews and position papers
  • Establishing a database of evidence on Self-Care

SCARU will work closely with Hammersmith & Fulham GP Practice Federation and Imperial College Health Care Trust (ICHT) Directorate of Public Health & Primary Care to pilot small interventions and to better understand knowledge attitude & perceptions of Self-Care from NHS staff and patient perspectives. The H&F GP Practice Federation and ICHT will also consider participating in the Self Care Week 2017, including participation in the Self-Care Forum Annual Conference.

For further information, contact Dr Austen El Osta.

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