Social Science

“The care and support that we provide for people should enable them to make the most of their lives.”   How successful are health/social care services in achieving this?

Health services in the United Kingdom are facing an immense challenge.   As life expectancy increases, so too does the elderly population and those living with long term health conditions.   The concept of self-management and people being able to make the most of their own lives is a commendable vision, yet not without its own complexities.   Government issued ‘White Papers’ recognize the need for a framework “developing local strategies to support self-care for people with long term conditions.” (DH, 2006, p.112).   However, the question remains whether or not reforms over the past decade have succeeded in meeting the objective in the title statement.
The classic ‘biomedical’ approach which has dominated healthcare until recently assumes that all illness is secondary to disease, thus removal of the disease will result in return to health.   While this reductionist model may have served its place, it has been criticised by an increasing number of patients with chronic illnesses being diagnosed who have still managed to live a considerably healthy lifestyle.   This suggests that healthcare should also take into account peoples lifestyles and perceptions of health within their cultural and social contexts.
In the case study of Anwar Malik, despite feeling less well than before and having symptoms of fatigue and excess thirst, Anwar believes he is not ill but simply slowing down with age.   This reluctance on Anwar’s part to recognise a possible illness demonstrates how people react differently to physical symptoms, what one person may shrug off could cause distress for another.   While most of us are comfortable visiting our GPs, an appointment with a doctor can be bewildering for someone who isn’t used to it.   In Anwar’s case, communication was an issue as English is not his first language, and he also...