Self-Care Week (14-20 November 2022) | Your Time Matters

Self-Care Week is the annual national event that raises awareness of what we can all do to improve our physical health and mental wellbeing by using the resources we have in our communities. This year, the theme is ‘your time matters’.

Self-Care Week is a perfect time to think about how we live our lives and maybe make some small changes that will help us take better care of ourselves and our families. Those changes could mean looking at what we eat or drink, or how much exercise we do or how much sleep we are getting.

They could also be about taking a step to be more in control of our health needs by using our time more sensibly and going to our local pharmacies for health advice before trying to book an appointment with our general practitioners.

Knowing what to do and where to go for help is an important part of ‘Your time matters’. It is often very difficult to get an appointment with your GP practice and currently the waiting time can be more than three weeks. Waiting for a long time to see a doctor can delay your treatment and make your condition worse.

Many GP appointments are being taken up by simple self-care matters that could be easily avoided by making use of community resources available. The time it takes to book an appointment, wait for the date, and attend your GP appointment can be reduced by more than half if you just visit your local pharmacies. It would also mean you do not need to take any unnecessary time off work or school because of a GP appointment.

Now with the new community pharmacy referral scheme, reception staff at your local GP practice are trained to identify any self-care conditions that can be treated at your local pharmacy. This will help reduce waiting times, and delay in your treatment as well as reducing the overall cost of getting a medication prescribed which is much more than what you would normally pay for an over-the-counter medication.

Remember, it isn’t just the GP practice that can help, pharmacists are also health experts. They are trained to help with all sorts of ailments and are on every High Street. Pharmacists can also signpost you to the right place for additional health advice or treatment.

Your local community pharmacy can offer many services that your GP practice can offer such as:

  • Emergency contraception
  • Asthma inhaler use and advice
  • Chlamydia screening and treatment
  • Blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar testing
  • Substance misuse service, including needle and syringe exchange schemes
  • Weight management service
  • Flu, Covid and travel vaccination services.

Remember, NHS 111 can also be a good resource for health advice for things that are not life-threatening. And the NHS website has lots of information on what steps to take to look after you and your family. The Self Care Forum also has some useful fact sheets you might like to download.

The important thing to remember is, practising self-care is something we all need to do every day. For ourselves.  For our families.  And for the NHS.


Are you an organisation who wants to support self-care messages? Download the posters below.

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Some tips to practise self-care and keep well this winter

How to prepare for self-care?

Having a medicines cabinet at home is the perfect way to make sure you are well prepared to self-care for you and your family!

Things you should think about for your medicines cabinet are:

  • A first aid kit with plasters, bandages, antiseptic wipes, tape, and eyewash solution
  • Painkillers such as paracetamol, or ibuprofen which are good for relieving headaches, period pains, joint sprains and bringing down temperatures
  • Paracetamol and ibuprofen suspensions for children.

Antihistamine tablets and creams – these are brilliant to help reduce itching from:

  • Insect bites
  • Chicken pox
  • Allergic reactions to food/ animals/ products
  • Hayfever symptoms (there are different types you can purchase over the counter or at a supermarket from tablets and sprays to eye drops).

Oral rehydration salts to replace the electrolytes lost from diarrhoea and vomiting.

Indigestion liquids or tablets to help with symptoms of heart burn and acid reflux.

All the above items can be bought from your local pharmacy or supermarket. Be sure to read the patient information leaflets, instructions on how to take the medication and the expiry of the medication. Remember to keep these medications out of the reach of children. You can speak to your local pharmacist for more advice.


When can I expect to feel better?

Many common illnesses will get better on their own or can be treated with over-the-counter medications. Even if you are feeling quite unwell you don’t always need antibiotics. 

For most people:

  • A sore throat can last up to 7 days
  • Colds can last up to 10 days
  • The Flu can last up to 2 weeks
  • A blocked nose and cough can last up to 3 weeks.

If your symptoms do not improve within the expected time, then you should consider returning to the Pharmacy or calling your Practice to see your GP or Nurse. It can be concerning looking after ill babies and young children. Please do seek advice from your local pharmacy or GP Practice.


How to make the most of your local pharmacy

Pharmacies are a great community resource and can help support you and your family when you are feeling unwell.

You can seek advice on many common illnesses at your local pharmacy. Pharmacists and their teams are trained to offer health advice including which medications will help or treat your symptoms and advise you on when to see a doctor if needed.  Items bought from the Pharmacy are usually cheaper than a prescription from your GP Practice.

Many pharmacies are also open late into the evening and over the weekends, allowing you to walk in and ask for advice at a time convenient for you and without the need for an appointment.

There are also many informative websites that provide advice such as NHS 111.

If you are worried that your symptoms are serious or you are feeling very unwell, call 111 for advice. Alternatively, you can visit the 111 websites for further information about the services available