Managing long term conditions


If you have a long-term condition, there are extra things you may need to consider, such as making changes to your diet, different types of exercise or different types of medication you may need to take.

Our health is our most important asset and learning how to care for ourselves enables us to take control of our own health and wellbeing.

Being proactive about our health helps us to avoid becoming ill, treat common, everyday illnesses, take medicines and properly seek help when we need it as well as keeping fit and healthy.

Self-care means staying active by doing things that are important to you, such as gardening, seeing friends and family, going on holiday, and continuing to work, if possible. It involves looking at what you can do and want to do rather than what you cannot do.

Self-care does not mean you get less help from your doctor. The healthcare team is still there to support you. What and how much support you need will be discussed with you and written in your care plan.

Get support for a long term condition

Pharmacists, GPs and practice nurses can offer specific advice and support if you do become unwell or are managing a long-term condition. There’s also plenty of information and support available to help you to take care of yourself on a daily basis.

The national NHS website has lots of useful information on self-care support and links to information on specific health conditions, from commonly occurring symptoms to long term conditions.

Pharmacists can give help and advice about health and wellbeing and treating commonly occurring symptoms. Their advice is useful if you have a long-term condition as they can offer lots of support and information specific to your own health needs. Some pharmacists are also accredited to undertake free reviews, with your consent, to ensure you are taking prescribed medications properly and discuss any concerns or issues preventing that from happening. Ask them about these services.

Technology is also changing the way we take care of our health. As well as mobile apps to help us to manage our weight, diet and exercise and learn more about health-related issues and conditions, there is Digital Health Service home monitoring equipment for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart failure to enable them to stay at home, but still stay in touch with their health professionals. For more information, please call 0800 970 9129.

You can also take gentle health walks with Healthy Cornwall, call 01209 615600 to sign-up. Visit the Get Active Cornwall website for ideas on how to get active.

Self care and choice

When you talk to your GP or nurse about your condition, you may want to discuss some of the things you need to do to stay well. Some of these will be things that you do yourself, including eating healthily, exercising or taking your medicines at the right time.

You might want to make choices about your care and who will provide it. This means sitting down with your nurse or GP and looking at what treatment and care is available and recording it in a care plan.

When you are first diagnosed with a long-term condition, these choices will be important. If your condition improves or gets worse, or other things in your life change, you may need to change your care plan to suit your needs.

Why diet and exercise can help with your long term condition

Keeping fit and healthy can be a challenge if you have a long-term condition, but it will make a big difference to your wellbeing and could ease your physical symptoms too.

Small changes to your lifestyle

Do you want to stop smoking, lose weight or be able to walk to the shops? There’s help available, whatever changes you want to make in your life. Find out more about going smoke free.

Lifestyle tools

The NHS live well webpages have a collection of NHS-approved interactive tools that are simple and fun to use. They will help you live a more healthy, active life and feel better as a result.

Cornwall Healthy Weight

Cornwall Healthy Weight works with people of all ages throughout Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to promote healthy eating. They offer helpful and realistic advice and run practical and fun sessions aimed at improving diet.

Long term condition personalised care planning

Personalised care planning underpins care for people with complex, ongoing health needs. It is a process whereby people are supported to develop confidence and competence in managing the challenges of living with their long term conditions so that they have an improved quality of life, improved clinical outcomes and make more appropriate use of health and social care resources.

Aims of personalised care planning

  • People will have a full choice of primary and secondary care services.
  • Early diagnosis of life-threatening conditions will be much improved.
  • More services will be provided closer to home in the community.
  • There will be more emphasis on improving the satisfaction people feel when they are receiving services.
  • People who access services will have the right information, at the right time, with the right support.

The local vision is that care will be designed to fit individual needs, not the other way around, and will be a combination of proactive and reactive delivery. Personalised care planning is the route to achieving this: it has the potential to fundamentally transform the relationship between the public and public services.

The personalised care planning process is one of discussion, negotiation and decision-making between a those who deliver and receive services and support. The process should be continuous and led by the person, supporting them to identify what matters to them.

Long term condition support services

Page last reviewed: 12 July 2022

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