A new online tool that empowers people with long-term health issues to better understand and self-manage their conditions - and take day-to-day control of their well-being - has started patient trials in West Yorkshire. And professionals in the long-term health care field are being invited to an event next month to share their experience and contribute to its ongoing development.
Underpinned by proven Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques, the new platform encourages behavioural change by supporting users to achieve measurable goals. It takes a ‘whole-person’ approach that promotes independent decision-taking – and users can also engage the support of a circle of formal and informal carers.
It is being rolled out by Kirklees Council’s Public Health Directorate, working with the Greater Huddersfield and North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) under the title, My Heath Tools.
Recently, the two CCGs appealed to patients experiencing chronic pain, breathing problems or anxiety to take part in trialling the platform. They highlighted the aims of the tool which, broadly, are to help users feel more in control of their lives; to increase their confidence in managing their condition; inspire new ideas and provide the support and skills they need.
My Health Tools is based on the Self-Care Hub platform, which is being built by Kirklees Council-owned technology developer, Looking Local; they are keen to involve other health organisations in its development and show them how the system can be tailored to help meet their local health priorities.
Feedback from users’ experience in the Greater Huddersfield and North Kirklees CCG Areas through March and April will be used by LookingLocal to further shape the Self-Care Hub and My Health Tools.
A presentation and open forum in Birmingham towards on Thursday 23 April will give public health professionals and clinicians an opportunity to hear more about the Self-Care Hub and feed into its ongoing development.
Consultant in Public Health, Sarah Muckle, who leads the My Health Tools project for Kirklees Council, and who will be speaking at the event in Birmingham, said: “At Kirklees we are really excited about My Health Tools as an example of working with our citizens in a different way and supporting them to take more responsibility for their health. We’re keen that professionals in the field of long-term care share their own experiences and contribute to the further development of this tool. Its ongoing development is a collaborative effort - working with clinicians, cognitive behavioural therapists, health psychologists, people with long term conditions and voluntary sector who have been invited to help ‘co-produce’ this important innovation.”
Guy Giles, Managing Director of LookingLocal, said: “We believe that our Self-Care Hub, with its basis in CBT techniques and focus on real behavioural change, represents a significant step forward in enabling the self-management of long-term conditions. The LookingLocal team would be pleased to brief other interested health bodies on the hub’s potential for their patients.”
Research indicates that self-management of care works: it reduces the need for face-to-face consultation with clinicians as users can draw on a diverse range of support and advice whenever they need it, 24-hours a day. Levels of patient satisfaction are higher, there is a reduced need for medicines and significant cost savings are achieved.
The preview of the Self-Care Hub takes place at the Library of Birmingham on Thursday 23 April, from 10am to 3pm. Numbers are limited but health development professionals or practitioners specialising in long—term conditions, who are interested in attending, are invited to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.