Implementing a community-based self care training initiative: a process evaluation


Jane South
Reader in Health Promotion
Queen Square House
Faculty of Health
Leeds Metropolitan University
Leeds LS2 8AF, UK


Within the UK, there is growing recognition that individuals will need to take increased responsibility for managing their own health for there to be improvements in population health. The current evidence base on self care interventions reflects an interest in enhancing self care knowledge, skills and behaviour in relation to the management of long-term conditions. In contrast, this paper reports on a community-based self care initiative that was designed to promote self care approaches in the general population. The principal component was a self care skills training course delivered to groups of lay people in community and workplace settings. Self Care for People was piloted in three primary care trusts and a process evaluation was undertaken. The aim of this paper is to examine the feasibility, relevance and acceptability of the initiative. Qualitative interviews were conducted with a sample of stakeholders involved in implementation including coordinators, trainers and key informants from organisations hosting the course. In total 40 interviews and two focus groups were conducted from 2006 to 2008 and the data were analysed thematically. The evaluation found that implementation was relatively straightforward with few major barriers reported. Recruitment to the self care skills training course took place in both workplace and community group settings, including in organisations supporting socially excluded groups. The course was seen to provide a valuable space for contemplation on personal health, however, participation could raise sensitive issues that needed to be dealt with by skilled facilitators. Motivations for involvement differed markedly in host organisations and different strategies for marketing were adopted. The paper concludes by suggesting that while Self Care for People was both feasible and relevant to different stakeholder groups, there needs to be flexibility in responding to the needs of participants in different settings.