Why We Must Improve The Understanding Of What Self Care Means

Uncategorized Jul 26, 2020

‘Taking care of yourself’ is an everyday idea but a review report commissioned by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC) at Victoria University in 2018 highlighted the lack of support from Australia’s health system for people who need support to care for their own health and wellbeing.

It found that support for Self Care for people who wish to or need to improve their health, and for self management by people with poor health and chronic health conditions, is limited and inadequate.

This goes to the core of health literacy. If people do not understand their role in managing their own health then all we are doing is driving a society of ill health. 

The report was undertaken by AHPC for an ad hoc collaboration of three organisations interested in Self Care – The Australian Self Medication Industry, HCF and Remedy Healthcare.

Self Care is defined by the World Health Organisation (2013) as ‘the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, and maintain health and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health-care provider’.

The role of Self Care in effective health management and treatment is one of the major gaps in Australia’s health policy framework.

In ‘The State of Self Care in Australia as far back as February 2018,  the report found that there is no evidence that people who most need support with Self Care and self-management are being effectively targeted by existing programs.

It further found that there is no coherent approach to establishing clear priorities for Self Care, particularly in populations where the need is greatest, as evidenced by their poorer health.

The term ‘Self Care’ is not widely used nor commonly used in Australian health policy documents: however the term ‘self management is, generally implying the active participation of individuals  in the management of established health conditions.

The AHPC review found that there is a range of Self Care support services across Australia and that there is a multiplicity of sources of information. However, there is scant evidence that people who most need support with Self Care and self management are being effectively reached by these.

For example: The report found, 40% of Australians with the lowest levels of financial resources are particularly disadvantaged with much worse health outcomes than other Australians. 

They are 33% more likely to have diabetes and 172% more likely to die from diabetes. These Australians are much more likely to be obese, much more likely to smoke and to have little or no exercise. Australia has been very slow to adopt effective approaches for supporting these groups of people with Self Care and self management services and support.

According to Professor Rosemary Calder (pictured), Director of Australian Health Policy Collaboration, from the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University this review highlights the evident potential of Self Care as a component of healthy public policy is not being fully harnessed in Australia  and that it could and should be.’

At WOW Chaplaincy through Self Care School, and noticing the vast discrepancies promoted online and offline as to what Self Care actually is,  we set out to practically educate our own community on what is Self Care for this very reason.

Researching data available we identified that Self Care can in fact be divided into 7 core plinths. Each plinth interacting with each other and, used and strengthened according to individual need and focus.

These core plinths are:

  •       Career
  •       Physical
  •       Social
  •       Financial
  •       Community
  •       Spiritual
  •       Planet


Practically there are things we all can do to help your health and wellbeing using Self Care. Part of that is being aware of interconnectedness of each of the self care plinths.

The premise is simple, when striving to improve our lives, we’re quick to buy into programs that promise to help us make money, lose weight, or strengthen our relationships.  Commercialised products abound.  However, while it might be easier to treat these critical areas in our lives if they are independent, they’re not.

We believe there are seven universal, interconnected plinths that are intrinsic to Self Care. Within these elements or plinths as we call them are tactical tools that we can use, for example: breathing, exercise, eating well, catching up with family and friends, participating and supporting community activities and of course identifying and finding meaning and purpose to our lives. Sometimes we just need to be still, other times we crave connection. All these  tools are Self Care.

Our work at Self Care School is designed to provide you with a holistic view of what makes up Self Care and how this contributes to your wellbeing over a lifetime. 

Self Care is something we should all strive to practice, daily, even in baby steps.


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