Understanding Supported Self-Management in Social Care for Older People


In health care, one of the terms used to describe helping people to manage their health conditions, is ‘supported self-management’. Most attention has been paid to the ways that people understand and manage their health condition and health care.

People living with long-term conditions, however, often experience changes in how well they are able to cope with day-to-day activities particularly as they get older. Often family members and social care services support older people with their day-to-day activities but they would not usually call this ‘supported self-management’.

In this small-scale, qualitative study, we hope to gain a better understanding of older people’s and their families’ own ways of coping and what support has been most useful to helping them to manage their day-to-day activities. By talking to social care staff we will gain an understanding of how services that support self-management work and their experiences of delivering them.


We will hold focus groups with different groups of older people and carers to –

  • explore the strategies that they develop themselves to help cope on a day-to-day basis;
  • find out what they have found most useful when they have received support from services.

We will hold focus groups with staff who work in social care services to –

  • explore services that show promising practice in supporting older people and their families to self-manage;
  • understand the different ways that this type of support is provided in social care;
  • identify opportunities and challenges they experience in providing this type of support.

We will analyse the information from the focus group by identifying the main themes arising from each of the focus group discussions. We will compare and contrast these themes between the different groups.

We will hold a workshop to feed the findings back to some of the participants and give them an opportunity to help us to think about these in more detail. We will also ask their views about whether future research is needed, what it should focus on and how practical it would be to conduct.

Findings and the future

The findings from this study

  • will help us to understand how supported self-management in delivered through social care
  • will help us to learn more about the experiences of both older persons’ and staff
  • will help to inform services to support older people in a meaningful and useful way
  • will help us to plan future research

Principal Investigator: Dr Fiona Aspinal, University College London

Start date and duration: January 2019, 9 months

Partners and collaborators involved: London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Social Care Institute for Excellence