Lungs for Living

A division of Spirometry Training Services Africa CC


Self-Management Planning

What is a self-management plan?

A self-management plan is an agreed set of guidelines between you and your doctor or asthma nurse on 'what to do when'. It basically gives you some 'signs' to work from so that you can identify when your asthma is getting better or worse; the plan tells you exactly what to do depending on the change. The action you take may, for example, be to increase your medication, visit your GP or call an ambulance.

Are all self-management plans the same?

Definitely not! The plan you have will depend on a number of things including your individual asthma, your age and how much responsibility you wish to take. There are some pre-printed self-management plan cards available which may be modified and used. Your own plan will be customised to meet your individual needs and should always be written down for you. You will be asked to monitor your asthma at home for a period before discussing a plan to suit you. The plan you have will be agreed jointly between you and your healthcare provider.

What are the signs of the plan based on?

Plans are usually based on peak flow and/or asthma symptoms. Most plans involve a number of zones. In each zone your peak flow and/or symptoms are used as a guide to help you know what action you need to take. An example of a self-management plan is shown below.

Note: This shows an example of a self-management plan based on peak flow.
The person's personal best peak flow is 400 l/min. This is just an example.
You must not follow this as your own plan.

Why are self-management plans useful?

There are many advantages to having a self-management plan which include:

  • Help Prevent an Asthma Attack

    Many asthma attacks occur because people do not know or ignore the signs of worsening asthma. Your plan can help you to intervene and do something before you have a bad attack. You will no longer be leaving things to chance. This could prevent a trip to casualty, a stay in hospital, or even save your life.

  • Altering your own medication safely

    Most plans enable you to alter your own medication without having to consult your doctor or nurse every time your asthma gets worse or better. This can ensure you remain well on the minimum amount of medication needed to keep you there.

  • Take control of your Asthma

    Your own plan will give you a much greater degree of control over your asthma. It will enable you to make safe and informed decisions about your condition to help prevent a decline in your asthma and keep you as well as possible all the time.

How do I get a Self Management Plan?

To get your own plan you must work closely with your asthma nurse. Asthma varies enormously from one person to the other and so do individual needs. It is very important that both you and your nurse are happy with your personal self-management plan.

Should I have my plan reviewed?

Definitely. Your asthma or circumstances may change so it is important to review your current self-management plan regularly. It may need to be modified at a later date to accommodate these changes. This will ensure it continues to meet your needs.
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