Self management is considered to be a key driver in person centred care in health policy internationally. There are wide ranging aspirations for the impact self management can have on our health and social care systems reflected in policy and yet, it is considered that these expectations have not yet been realised in routine practice on the ground.
‘Gaun Yersel!’ is Scotland’s first strategy for self management, co-produced by people living with long term conditions together with Scottish Government. It proposed a transformative approach to health and social care – with person led support and services at the heart designed to ensure people feel they are leading partners in their health and wellbeing.
It recognised that self management is a cross sector agenda, that capacity needed to be built to develop our understanding of approaches that support self management and to ensure self management was embedded systematically across our health and social care system involving the third sector.
Networks are ideally placed for tackling systemic and complex problems and driving forward change. They can support implementation of policy into practice by enabling learning and encourage change across professional and organisational boundaries. To support the ongoing implementation of the strategy, the ALLIANCE created the Self Management Network Scotland in 2014 to share learning and best practice of self management approaches and activity happening across Scotland. Since its establishment the network has grown to over 600 members across all of Scotland's 32 local authorities.
SMNS aimed to create a cross-sector space for people working in health and social care, people living with long term conditions, third sector workers, academics and local and national government among others to learn from one another, develop new ideas and strengthen the self management movement across Scotland. The network is based on inclusivity; the only criteria for joining SMNS is that you have an interest in self management. This has ensured that the ethos of self management itself - that it is for everyone - is truly upheld, and that the network is diverse, reflecting the many voices within Scotland, and the collaborative approach required to ensure that people are able to live well with long term conditions.
An area of focus for SMNS is holding events across Scotland that create opportunities for networking and the spread of learning. Experimenting with different event formats to facilitate increased networking and the exchange of knowledge, the network also brings together members to create consensus on themes around self management. Outreach to network members from the ALLIANCE has been recognised as a point of value, creating a space to identify opportunities for collaboration, tease out connections and ‘connect the dots’. Furthermore, this establishes relationships between the network member and the ALLIANCE, generating a sense of ownership of SMNS for the network member.
The network recognises its members as equal contributors with the direction of SMNS being determined by network members themselves and working with the ALLIANCE to co-produce an Action Plan for the network to outline it’s priorities