Online Self-Care and Long-term Conditions - how it works

It's Self Care Week and with theme for this year is Self Care for Life, therefore we thought it would be perfect timing to share the progression of our SelfCareHub platform, especially the Kirklees My Health Tools version which went live in September 2015. Every day this week we will be updating you on the in's and out's of My Health Tools and how it's enabling people of Kirkless to self-manage their long-term conditions. 

 

The Kirklees version of the Self-Care Hub, My HealthTools (MHT), has been built on the contribution of many, many people, ranging from people with long-term conditions, to health professionals, to IT developers.  With much of the knowledge and experience coming from successful local programmes and services, MHT uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques to help people learn how to manage their condition.

 

There are several principles that shape MHT.  Here are just a few:

  • Person-centred: At the heart of the holistic process is keeping the person, and what is important to them, a constant theme throughout the site.  This addresses the link between mental and physical health, as well as reflects a general shift within the NHS for more person-centred care
  • Support: Central to the success of learning to manage a long-term condition is having support from others and engaging with others with similar experiences.
  • Information: Easy access to good quality, accurate, helpful and relevant information plays a major part in improving health and wellbeing
  • Easy to use: Any technology has to be very user-friendly to be successful in what it does.  The barriers to entry are kept low, and it can be used simply by pointing and clicking.

To give you a very brief outline of what MHT does, I will describe fictional Mary’s use of My Health Tools.

 

Confidence - If Mary hasn’t previously used MHT, then the first step she takes is to complete a Confidence Assessment.  Based on what Health Trainers in Kirklees currently use with people who are part of the very successful Practice Activity and Leisure Scheme, this is done first to give a baseline from which progress can be measured.  Covering different areas of everyday living, it takes a ‘snapshot’ of how confident Mary feels to manage the different aspects of their lives.  Later on, as Mary progresses through MHT, she will be prompted to reassess her confidence to measure her progress.Challenges, Long-term Goals, and Targets - Mary then decides what her key challenges are that she would like to address as well as what long-term goals she wants to work towards.  Based on what she chooses, MHT then makes suggestions for smaller, time-limited Targets, which are steps towards achieving the longer-term goals. These aren’t fixed, and can be changed later in the process as her needs change and as she achieves her goals and targets.  The Challenges and Long-term Goals can also be individually assessed, which can enable someone to see where Mary needs greater support (see The Circle of Support below).

Recommendations - Based on Mary’s assessment of her Challenges and Long-term Goals, the MHT makes content suggestions for Mary to look at.  These could be videos, audio files, articles, links to other organisations and websites. This information is held within a database, and ensures that Mary is getting accurate and correct information, relevant to her and her needs.  Rather than getting information from Google, Mary can trust that this information is of good quality, in the same way that she would trust information given to her by a health professional.

The Circle of Support - Mary is able to connect with other people, such as carers, friends and family via MHT.  Mary can choose which Challenges, Long-term Goals and Targets she shares with people, who can then support her more effectively in what she wants to achieve.

 

Journal - In this section Mary can record achievement, thoughts and feelings, an important part of measuring progress and being encouraged.  She can also compare her journal with her Confidence Assessments to begin understand patterns in her life, which will help her to manage living with a long-term condition.


In a nutshell, My Health Tools is a digital platform that anybody, anytime, anywhere with internet access, can use to manage their long-term condition.  The first of it’s kind in the UK, it brings together different aspects of what impacts a person’s health and puts it in an online tool.