An important part of becoming more independent is an understanding of your health needs and what you can do to stay healthy and fit.
As part of building your independence, you will need to gain and record this information in a way that is useful for you.
Sections in this guide (click title to view)
- 1. General health
- 2. Alcohol
- 3. Be active
- 4. Healthy eating
- 5. Managing stress and anxiety
- 6. Sex
- 7. Smoking
1. General health
Things which may be important to know are:
General practitioner (GP) details
The name of your doctor, the surgery name, address and telephone number, and the days and time that the doctor's surgery is open.
Learning disability annual health check - if you are aged 14 or above and have a moderate, severe or profound learning disability your general practitioner (GP) may offer you a learning disabilities annual health check.
The purpose of this check is to pick up any health concerns early enough to treat.
The name of your dentist, the dentist surgery name, address and telephone number, and the days and time that the dentist surgery is open.
The name of your optician, the optician's practice name, address and telephone number, and the days and time that the optician's practice is open.
Details of other health professionals
This includes professionals involved in your health care, such as, audiologists, chiropodists or physiotherapists. Again knowing their name, where they work, such as the hospital, and their telephone number would be useful
Your medical history
When you go to see a health professional, such as a doctor in the hospital, it will sometimes help if they know what health issues you have had before, for example if you've had mumps.
You should also tell them what continuing health needs you may have, such as asthma, diabetes or not able to swallow tablets and what help you are getting to manage these needs.
The name of the medicines you currently take, what it is for, what the dose is, how frequently you take the medicine, do you need to take with food and if you have any bad side effects from taking the medicine.
Is there anything you are allergic too, such as bee stings or penicillin?
What have you been immunised against, ie measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus and have you had any required boosters?
Family health history
If your close family members have suffered from certain health conditions, such as heart problems, stroke or cancer, it may mean that your doctor might want to check you for any signs of these.
Having an occasional drink can be part of a social experience or a nice accompaniment to a meal.
But what is the safe limit for you?
Drinking regularly above this limit could lead to serious health problems including cancer and stroke. There could also be problems if you are on regular medication, and alcoholic drinks normally have lots of calories so can also impact on any diet you are on.
For information on suggested alcohol limits, what is a “unit” and calories in alcohol visit the NHS Choices Drinking and alcohol website
If you think you might have an alcohol problem you can contact the:
3. Be active
To stay healthy or to improve health, we need to do two types of physical activities each week: aerobic (raise your heart rate and make you breath faster) and muscle strengthening.
The amount you need to do depends on your age, guidelines can be found on the NHS Choices website.
If you feel that you are inactive or have a stable medical condition you can ask your general practitioner (GP) for an exercise referral.
4. Healthy eating
Eating too much food or too many bad foods could make you put on weight or increase to risk of certain diseases, ie type 2 diabetes, heart disease. It can also affect your confidence and lead to problems sleeping.
Being underweight can also be bad for your health, contributing to a weakened immune system or fragile bones.
To find out more information on good foods, how much you should weigh and understanding food labels try the NHS Choices Healthy eating website.
You can also try your hand at healthy cooking by attending a free (some conditions apply) cookery course run by The Joy of Food
5. Managing stress and anxiety
For most of us there are times in our lives when we feel stressed, anxious, overwhelmed or find it difficult to cope.
Unfortunately trying to build up your independence may put you in a situation where these feelings can start to become a barrier to your success.
So it is important to know where you can go for support, beyond that of your parents or carers:
- Reading Well Books on Prescription – a scheme from Lambeth libraries offering a range of self-help books that are recommended by health professionals
- Lambeth and Southwark Mind - offer services including supported housing, crisis helplines, drop-in centres, employment and training schemes, counselling and befriending
Having sex, thinking about having sex or just curious?
It is a normal part of growing up and can play a very important part in our relationships – it can also be very confusing!
So where can you find out information on contraceptives, sexually transmitted diseases, how to say no if you are not ready or why am I attracted to both boys and girls?
- NHS Choices Sex and young people – information about all aspects of sexual relationships
- C-Card scheme – provides free condoms to young people
- Lambeth Safeguarding Children Board – provide advice about sex and relationships
- Your GP – doctors' surgeries may offer a range of information and services to do with sexual health, not all surgeries offer all of the services so it is best to check with them first.
It is never too late to stop smoking and here is a reminder of the benefits of going smoke free:
- you will be healthier
- you will have more money
- your breath and clothes won’t smell of smoke
- you're likely to live longer.
Visit the NHS Choices website for more information on: