Consumer enablement guide

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What is Consumer Enablement?

Consumer enablement is the extent to which people understand their health conditions and have the confidence, skills, knowledge and ability to manage their health and wellbeing.

People are the experts of their own lives. They live with their conditions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In comparison, they spend very little time with healthcare professionals.

Helping people make informed choices and maintain healthy behaviours requires a partnership that combines your expert knowledge of health, with their expert knowledge of their lives.

When you draw on people’s expertise, you learn what is important to them and understand their goals, abilities, strengths and motivations. You discover what is happening in their life and how it may influence their health outcomes.

This partnership is essential for engaging people and giving them the confidence, skills, knowledge and ability they need to become active participants in their own healthcare.

Consumer enablement is based on the principles of patient-centred care and aims to involve people in decision making and goal setting, so they can better integrate the management of their health with the demands of daily life.

We cannot categorise people as having high or low enablement, as it is not static. Enablement fluctuates in response to a number of factors, some fixed and others fluid, which combine to make up their capability at any one time.

These include:

  • experiences with health services
  • their own health status
  • where and how they live
  • personal and life circumstances
  • support networks
  • health literacy
  • socio-economic status
  • cultural beliefs and values.1

The social determinants of health (SDH) are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. SDH can have significant impact on people’s capabilities to manage their health and wellbeing, especially in terms of health literacy, access to health services and ability to balance care of health with the other demands of daily life.