Planning for self-care

Developing a personalised self-care plan provides a solid foundation for effective self-care. While systematic care plans are routinely developed to achieve therapeutic goals for healthcare consumers, self-care plans are an under-utilised resource for healthcare professionals and other members of the community outside of clinical contexts.1-3

In a national study of palliative care nurses and doctors in Australia, 100% of individuals who used a personalised self-care plan found it to be an effective self-care strategy.Planning for self-care can also help to achieve a sense of work-life harmony. Work-life harmony is the notion of relative harmony (rather than ‘balance’) between work and personal life.4

On a collective/team level, palliative care educators and services participating in the continuous quality improvement program PaCSA (Palliative Care Self Assessment) support staff and volunteers to develop their own personalised self-care plan. This also contributes towards meeting Standard 9 of the National Palliative Care Standards.5

If you’re not yet sure about developing a formal self-care plan, you might like simply to reflect on the self-care planning process. This is because the proactive nature of consciously planning for self-care can also be effective, without necessarily documenting a plan on paper. 4

Whichever option you prefer, personalised planning for self-care can be a tremendous support for putting the theory of self-care into practice.



Proactively planning your personal strategies for self-care is important. In the words of an Australian palliative care nurse, ‘self-care goes down the toilet when it’s random—there’s no effective random self-care’5

Now that you know more about the importance of and the process of planning for self-care, you might like to develop your own formal self-care plan by downloading and using the free PCA Self-Care Planning Tool (Self-Care Matters).


  1. Jones, SH. ‘A Self-Care Plan for Hospice Workers.’ American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. 2005. 22(2); 125–128.
  2. Mills J. ‘Self-care, self-compassion and compassion for others.’ 2018. The University of Sydney.
  3. Mills J, Wand T, Fraser, JA. ‘Self-Care in Palliative Care Nursing and Medical Professionals: A cross-sectional survey.’ Journal of Palliative Medicine. 2017. 20(6); 625-630.
  4. Mills J, Wand T, Fraser, JA. ‘Exploring the meaning and practice of self-care among palliative care nurses and doctors: A qualitative study.’ BMC Palliative Care. 2018. 17; 63.
  5. Palliative Care Australia. ‘National Palliative Care Standards’ 5th Edition. 2018. PCA: Canberra ACT.