What is self-care?

WHO’s working definition of self-care is :

“The ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health-care provider”. 1    

Self-care is the practice of individuals looking after their own health using the knowledge and information available to them. It is a decision-making process that empowers individuals to look after their own health efficiently and conveniently, in collaboration with health and social care professionals as needed.

Self-care involves:

  • Making healthy lifestyle choices -  being physically active and eating healthily
  • Avoiding unhealthy lifestyle habits – avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption

  • Making responsible use of prescription and non-prescription medicines

  • Self-recognition of symptoms - assessing and addressing symptoms, in partnership with a healthcare professional where necessary

  • Self-monitoring -  checking for signs of deterioration or improvement

  • Self-management - managing symptoms of disease, either alone, in partnership with healthcare professionals, or alongside other people with the same health condition

The benefits of self-care are threefold:

Better choice

Self-care gives people greater availability of effective healthcare. It saves individuals time and effort, by allowing them to manage many health conditions conveniently and successfully by themselves. It lets individuals address basic needs without the complications and added effort of going to see a doctor.

Better care

Self-care empowers people to take their health and wellbeing into their own hands, giving them the incentive to improve their quality of life. It plays a key role in the prevention of certain conditions and improves recovery times where total prevention fails. It’s a critical part of well-being at all stages of life.

Better value

Self-care helps combat rising healthcare costs around the world. Short-term investments in self-care lead to demonstrable long-term savings for governments and healthcare industries across the world. Self-care eases the workload of strained healthcare systems by enabling them to allocate resources more efficiently and effectively.

The future of self-care

Several key factors are shaping the future of the self-care industry.

The global population is aging with an ever-greater need for better chronic disease management. At the same time, the consumer journey is rapidly evolving, impacting how individuals interact with healthcare providers and buy self-care.

In an omni-channel world, people want convenient, transparent and affordable options at their fingertips. The explosion in data-driven solutions also means that individuals have come to expect holistic, personalized solutions across every aspect of their lives.

The Global Self-Care Federation is helping the industry respond to these factors and achieve better health outcomes for individuals all around the world.