Support for self-care in Scotland: how can paramedics advocate the self-care agenda?

Paramedics work very much on an episodic basis and this is entirely expected as they see patients when there has been a traumatic incident, acute onset of symptoms or acute exacerbation of an existing condition. This means that their work, although involving assessment and treatment planning, tends to be focused on the current complaint. In the UK, paramedics work to guidelines drawn up by the Joint Royal Collages Ambulance Liaison Committee (JRCALC). These focus on managing the specific condition or complaint. As a result, it may seem that supporting self-care is not congruous with the work of paramedics, but self-care support is becoming increasingly supported within the wider NHS and there is significant research around this subject. The purpose of this article is to describe what self-care is, its origins, and underpinning theories. It will also describe the drivers promoting it in the current health care context in Scotland, what is missing from current research, what implications exist for healthcare practitioners and provides an example of how paramedics can deliver effective support for self-care.

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