Personal footcare is important for everyone, but particularly for older people as good foot health can reduce pain or discomfort, improve confidence, quality of life and independence. Healthy feet can also help people to remain physically active, allowing them to get out and about in their local community and increase their energy levels and general zest for life. Importantly, neglecting personal footcare needs can contribute to falls, which might otherwise be avoided.
Personal footcare includes the tasks that adults normally do for themselves such as cutting and filing toenails, smoothing and moisturising skin, looking for signs of infection or other problems which need referral to a podiatrist. An essential aspect of self-management is that people have access to the information they need about their condition and the services and resources which are available, whether through the NHS and its partners, local authorities or the voluntary sector.
This guidance aims to clearly set out the difference between personal footcare and clinical podiatry. It has been developed in recognition of the fact that there is significant variation in practice across Scotland with regard to the provision of personal footcare and how it is signposted; or what training and support is needed for those who care for their own feet or for family members, or carers, who provide such care on behalf of others.
The Scottish Government's Healthcare Quality Strategy promotes a model of care that engages, empowers and supports people in self-care, as a partnership approach with their healthcare professionals, carers and community.
Enabling people to be the lead partners in their care and giving them the knowledge, skills and confidence to live well at home or in a homely setting is also at the heart of the person centred ambition we have set for the NHS in Scotland.
We believe that supporting people to have the knowledge and skills to look after their feet, when they are able to do so, is an important step towards this ambition. As is having the knowledge and understanding of when to seek help from a clinical podiatrist when a problem or infection arises.
Thank you to all our partners who have worked with us to create this guidance and enable this work to have the visibility and priority it deserves.
Michael Matheson, MSP, Minister for Public Health
Email: Julie Townsend