our toolkit

health guides


selfcare library


There is a big wave building in health care. New boards would be good!




This is what Sustain Care means.


With any big wave there is first a big ebb. Health services are locked into a battle between limited budgets and inflationary pressures: aging populations, more chronic illnesses and mental health distress. In addition, greater expectations, the increasing medicalisation of daily experiences and the spectre of antibiotic resistance raise questions about whether medical culture itself is part of the problem.


As the projections are so clear, public health policy has become more focused on increasing resilience, to reduce demand on less necessary treatments and free up medicine to do more of the serious work it does best. Social prescription, where more appropriate lifestyle and community referrals replace medication, is one developing idea.  Encouraging self care and self-medication is another.


For most people financial pressures translate as more disappointments, less easy access to delivered health services, whether public or corporate. However demand for effective care will keep growing. This is where the next wave is building.


In times of need, and when the system fails, people turn to the original and most reliable resource they have: each other, their own community, social networks and family, and onto their own wits. If delivered services cannot meet demand there will be more need for individual and collective self care. The main block to this is the disempowerment that modern technological medicine has created: the fear that we are not qualified any more to treat ourselves safely. Self care needs support.


The evidence actually shows that ‘self care’ is best done with someone else. This need not be with a health professional. Anyone who cares and attends will make the key difference for an individual changing health behaviour. We could call this 'shared care'.


Sustaincare was set up as a Community Interest Company in 2008 to pursue these ideas as a social enterprise until 2017. The main fruits of its work are on ourmedicine.net and are now being picked up by other partners with more capacity to deliver.





Sustaincare offers reliable shared care services for all parties in this conversation:


Learning to be Well
Supporting resilience

OurMedicine provides toolkits for anyone who wants to get better, and reliable on-line resources to back these up.


Rather than 'self care' we promote the idea of 'shared care', where individuals can call on support to make changes, rather than doing it all alone. So some of our tools are for personal use: with these you can learn and mark your own progress to better health. You can also share accompanying texts that provide the evidence and guidance for health professionals and other carers that could support you.


The toolkits currently include


1) free online Workbooks and downloadable personal Journals;


These provide evidence-based and practicable step-by-stepapproaches to manage four 'pillars of health' that underpin almost any medical problem:


    • good sleep,
    • good eating,
    • stress management
    • restoring energies.


They are designed to allow anyone, alone or with support, to construct a personal plan that will work for them.


2) our Library


The Self Care Library is an online user-friendly evidence base developed with the UK Department of Health for the self care of 12 common conditions. we are updating and integrating it with other shared care resources.


In preparation: a series of guidance and learning tools safely to help with managing conditions such as


1) immediate family priorities

  • everyday infections
  • digestion and bowel problems
  • children's and women's health


2) long term conditions

  • diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • dementia.

This is a dedicated service for those who want to guide health learning, including health or care professionals, coaches, trainers, counselors or group leaders.


Currently among our toolkits, OurMedicine Workbooks and Journals help professionals do what they already want to do, and to build new productive models of practice. WIth them it is possible at last to really help patients and clients to sleep better, eat more healthily, manage stress and recover from fatigue and debility. That would benefit most practices!


 There is much more supportive material on this site and also an opportunity to join our new LinkedIn Health Resilience Group!


Sustaincare has set up community-based self care pilots in a family health practice and community hub, to develop social prescription options for family doctors.


It has led a UK national multi-centre project developing these approaches, as well as, in its home base of Exeter, cross-city bids engaging family practices, the community voluntary sector and NHS mental health foundation.


Shared care is being modeled in Exeter at a dedicated natural health practice and through Create Connections, a consortium of voluntary community groups.


In the Sustaincare model

  • the individual becomes the primary care provider
  • health professionals become guides, to empower and support their patients’ autonomy
  • facilitator/guides at the family practice become points of access to local community hubs.

The model is designed to put our health back in our hands, and to meet growing effectiveness gaps at less cost.


Sustaincare is in the resilience-building business!