1. Introduction  
  2. Common questions 
  3. Potential benefits 
  4. Top tips 
  5. Tools for self-management 
  6. Patient Activation Measure 
  7. Personal health budgets 
  8. Other financial support 
  9. Further support and information 
  10. Share your views of the usefulness of this information
  11. Contact us


Self-management aims to empower people with long-term conditions to take control of their treatment.  

It is a set of approaches which help you manage your own health.

This could be your physical health, mental health or both. 

Self-management involves: 

  • Finding out more about your condition 
  • Learning new skills to help you manage your health 
  • Working in partnership with your health team 
  • Choosing what is right for you. 

Your healthcare professional should support you to self-manage. This can be providing information or helping you gain the skills you need. 

This leaflet explains self-management, its potential benefits, and how to start. 

Common questions 

Why should I self-manage? 

Self-management can empower you. It allows you to feel in control of your condition. It can also help improve your health. 

Isn’t that my healthcare professional’s job? 

People with a long-term health condition spend an average of less than four hours a year with their medical team. Having the right tools in place can help you the rest of the time. 

People who are actively involved in their own care are shown to have better outcomes. 

How do I self-manage? 

There are some simple tools which can help you get started. This leaflet outlines some. 

You can also speak to your healthcare professional about getting more involved. 

What support should I get? 

Your healthcare professional should help you to self-manage by: 

  • Giving you access to a wide range of information which is easy to understand 
  • Helping you develop an action plan 
  • Listening to your concerns 

Potential benefits of self-management

Increased control 

Understanding your condition can empower you to ask questions and tell healthcare professionals what you want. 

It can also help you to manage your health, for example by controlling your blood sugar if you have diabetes. 

Save time and money 

Having a day off or arranging childcare while you see a health professional can be difficult.

Managing your condition can reduce the number of appointments. 

Reduced anxiety 

Knowing what a symptom or diagnosis means can help reduce your anxiety. 

It can also make you more confident about when you need to seek help. 

Improved outcomes 

Recognising when your symptoms are getting worse, knowing what to do and when to get help can reduce your risk of serious complications. 

Top tips 

Ask questions 

If there is anything you want to know, ask. This could be about your treatment options, possible complications or where to get more support. 

Do your research 

Learning more about your condition can help you to understand and manage it. Ask your doctor for recommendations of where you can find reliable information. For more on finding reliable information, see our leaflet ‘Finding trustworthy information online’. 

Get support 

This can be from your medical team, friends, family or work colleagues. You can also look for support groups, national charities and patient groups.  

Prioritise your responsibilities

Long-term conditions can make dealing with certain tasks more difficult. Working out which things are most important can help to take the pressure off. 

Take your medication 

Follow the advice of your GP or pharmacist about medication. Always speak to your healthcare professional before stopping any medication. 

A pill organiser or a reminder on your phone is a good way to make sure you take medication at the right times. 

Tell people what helps  

If certain treatments have worked in the past tell your doctor. Let your family and friends know what they can do to support you. 

Spot your early warning signs 

If you can, try to be aware of how you are feeling and watch out for signs you are becoming unwell. 

Tools for self-management 

A long-term health condition can be difficult to manage. Below are some tools to help you get started. 

Accept your diagnosis 

Acceptance is not about giving up. It is about recognising your condition and taking control. 

Build a team 

Self-management is easier with the support of others. Talk to your healthcare professional, friend, family and colleagues. 

Set goals 

Set simple, realistic goals in an action plan. Your healthcare professional can help you. Remember to be patient. It may take you weeks or even months to see improvements.


Appropriate exercise and stretching can decrease pain and increase relaxation. Speak to your healthcare professional about the best exercises for you. 

Keep a diary 

Tracking your progress will help you see how far you have come. It can help you build on your success. It can also help you see what to avoid. 

Plan for setbacks 

Think about what you will do if things do not go well. Being prepared for setbacks can make them easier to deal with. 

Patient Activation Measure® 

Healthcare professionals should support you to self-manage. To help them do this correctly, you may be asked to take a Patient Activation Measure® survey. 

What is patient activation? 

Patient activation covers three things – your knowledge, your skills, and your confidence in managing your health and care. 

How does the Patient Activation Measure® work? 

You will be asked to complete a short survey. Based on your responses you will placed in one of four levels of activation. 

There are no right or wrong answers. The level is to give medical staff an idea of how much support you might need. 

How can it help me? 

Once your healthcare professional knows your level, they can tailor your care to meet your needs. You should also receive support to improve your skills, knowledge and confidence. 

What would that support be? 

You may be referred to a self-management course. This can help increase your activation.

Why is it important? 

Evidence shows people with higher levels of activation tend to experience better health, have better outcomes and need less emergency care. 

Personal health budgets 

A personal health budget is an amount of money to support your health and wellbeing needs, which is planned and agreed between you (or someone who represents you), and your local NHS team.  

It is not new money, but it may mean spending money in a different way.  

Who can have a personal health budget? 

The following people can have a personal health budget: 

  • Adults eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare 
  • Children receiving continuing care 
  • People referred through their local wheelchair service 
  • People eligible for after-care services under section 117 of the Mental Health Act. 

How much money will I get? 

The amount you receive will depend on your personalised care and support plan.  

The plan is designed to help you decide what goals you want to achieve and how the budget can help you reach those. 

It will be developed with your local NHS team. 

What can the money be spent on? 

A personal health budget can be spent on a range of care and support. 

This could include paying for a personal assistant to help you at home or a new wheelchair. 

How can I get a personal health budget? 

If you are interested in a personal health budget for you, or someone you care for, you should talk to the local NHS team or health professional you deal with the most, for example a care manager or a GP. 

Other financial support  

Attendance Allowance 

An Attendance Allowance is available if you have a disability severe enough that you need someone to help look after you. You must be over the state pension age to claim. 

How much you get depends on the level of care you need. It does not cover mobility needs. 

You do not have to have someone caring for you to claim.  

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) 

Personal Independence Payments are replacing the Disability Living Allowance

The payments are for people with long-term ill health or a disability. You must be between 16 and the state pension age to claim.  

The amount you receive depends on how the condition affects you, not the condition itself. 

You will be assessed by a health professional to work out how much you get. Your rate will be regularly reviewed.

Further support and information

National Academy for Social Prescribing 

The NHS and national charities offer a range of self-management courses. You do not need to be referred by your GP. 

Check to see what is available in your area. Courses might include: 

Useful websites – more information on the Patient Activation Measure®– information on financial assistance – support for people with a mental health condition 

If you do not have internet access at home, you can go online at your local library or call our free helpline

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Get in touch 

The Patients Association offers a free national helpline providing specialist information and advice to help patients make sense of their health and social care.  

Patients can talk directly to trained advisers in strict confidence about any concerns, questions or general experiences they have regarding the NHS and social care systems.  

Our helpline is open from 9.30 am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and calls outside these times are returned as soon as possible during opening hours. 

Our helpline is open Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5pm: 0800 345 7115. 

You can also email [email protected] with your questions or to provide feedback on this resource. 

If you would like to contact the helpline, please call free on 0800 345 7115, or visit the helpline page on our website for more information.