Seeing people with long term conditions as a resource

People living with a long term health condition have a unique set of experiences, which enables them to support others, through volunteering or indeed paid employment, and provide a different perspective to that of health professionals.

Studies have shown that lay people who are effective in providing self management of their own condition, and have made positive life changes, can act as effective role models, and support others to make positive life changes.

Since we spend more than 99% of our life without health professionals present, the potentials in the knowledge-sharing and peer support are nearly unlimited. Every person has experience and tools for handling numerous challenges. If this potential is structured so that people can learn from each other, the need to use health services will be reduced, leaving more time to discuss issues where the benefit of the presence of health care professionals are indisputable.

People living with a long term health condition are often regarded as a cost to health services and a drain on resources. In fact people living with chronic disease can be a rich resource and an asset.

Engaging with patients and seeing them as a resource is known as co-production.
It is an acknowledgement that people’s needs are better met when they are involved in an equal and reciprocal relationship with professionals- working together to get things done.

There are six core principles:

  • Recognising people as assets
  • Building on people’s capabilities
  • Promoting mutuality and reciprocity
  • Developing peer support networks
  • Breaking down barriers between professionals and users
  • Facilitating rather than delivering

With thanks to ENOPE (Patient Empowerment. Living with Chronic Disease)

“Part of a series of short discussion topics on different aspects of self-management and patient empowerment written by ENOPE members for the 1st European conference on patient empowerment (ENOPE)”