Thursday, 20 March 2008

Feeling groovy

New(ish) to the current awareness page is a section on Long Term Conditions, which is one of the government's current hot topics.

What are long term conditions? According to the London Health Observatory these are defined by WHO as all health problems that need ongoing management over years or decades. It encompasses everything from mental illness to cancer, and from HIV to blindness. Seventeen and a half million people in the UK have such a condition. The BMA, which has resources for GPs on long term conditions, says the figure is 15 million.

If you are commissioning services for these conditions there is a website just for you, while the King's Fund brings together a variety of resources for managing conditions, including reading lists. If you want to avoid working alone or reinventing the wheel then try the NHS network for long term conditions.

Linked to long term conditions is the concept of the expert patient, who is actively involved in the management of his or her condition, because patients can understand their illness better than their carers, according to the Department of Health. Self-management is linked to patient education, which can help people manage their conditions.

Some conditions have their own National Service Frameworks - cancer, diabetes, COPD and mental health. There is a NSF for long term conditions, and one for long term neurological conditions.
Many conditions have specialist libraries devoted to them in the National Library for Health - cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal diseases, neurological conditions, mental health and genetic conditions.

If you are looking to do a literature search for information on care at home and in the community, then as well as the usual sources try the Social Care Online Database from the Social Care Institute for Excellence. The Department of Health has resources for social care, too.

Another aspect of self care is telecare or telehealth, which is about using technology to help people live independently, and "virtual wards" ensure conditions don't turn into the sort of problems that end up with patients being hospitalized. Croydon PCT is leading the field in this area.

If you are interested in the financial cost of long term conditions Audit Scotland has a report, and even a podcast.

A simple Google search for any of these aspects of long term conditions will find lots of results. For any research on long term conditions, think about also looking for "chronic illness" or for the specific illness or condition.

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