This self care week (15-21 November) Fylde Coast residents are being reminded that self care doesn’t mean do it yourself.

As main health services such as GPs, walk-in centres and A&E are busier than ever the best way to avoid long waits is to prevent health and wellbeing issues getting to the point of needing medical help. Self care is the term used to describe just that, but it doesn’t mean you have to do all the work yourself.

Whether it’s doing more exercise, quitting smoking or changing your diet or even  just making new friends we all know what we can do to prevent ill health. For some though the issue is finding motivation or getting over the nerves of doing something new to make a difference. There are a host of health services available that are designed specifically to offer the support you need to make those first steps though.

Louise Peacock, a social prescribing link worker from Lytham St Annes said: “Social prescribing is about talking to a person and establishing what is affecting their health and wellbeing and talking about what, if anything they want to explore further as a way to tackle those issues.

“We connect people to community groups and even come with you if you like. It’s about looking at your strengths and working to build on.”

Most GP practices have access to a Social prescribing link workers or health coaches that people can ask to speak to. Their role is to guide people through the hundreds of options and support them in to a service that best suits their needs. They will even go as far as going with you to a new group or service if you need it.

Local authorities have lots of people willing to offer advice on finding new services or hobbies for you. That could be in the form of a sports coach at one of the sports centres or even a librarian to help search for a new hobby or interest group.

Then there are over 3,000 voluntary groups across the Fylde Coast that are there to offer support and a friendly welcome to anyone who wants to get involved.

Dr Neil Hartley-Smith a local GP and clinical director for the Fylde Coast CCGs said: “With health services so busy we want to help people before they get ill. Only 20 per cent of our health needs require a trip to the doctors or hospital, the rest are down to things such as environment and our own behaviour. By taking care of ourselves and adopting healthy lifestyles we can reduce our chance of becoming seriously ill and needing medical help dramatically.

“We are all in this together and we want people to know that help and support is available for those who are just starting out on their self care journey. We encourage people to make a change now and if you don’t know how just ask.”

During the week people can join in the conversation about all the support available to them using #selfcaretogether. They can also find out more information on www.fyldecoastccgs.nhs.uk/local-services/selfcare or go to www.fyidirectory.co.uk for more than 3,000 groups and services that will all help you improve your health and wellbeing.