I doubt whether the rest of us - I mean we who are not, either on the parade ground or at the clinic, engaged in sorting out other people's problems - often talk about "self-esteem", unless we are being ironic. When I hear it said of someone (Mr Portillo, say) that they have "plenty of self-esteem" I'm clear what's being hinted at. It means they're too pleased with themselves. No, we don't think much of self-esteem.
Take away the self and we think even less. There are still those who when writing to the editor refer to "your esteemed journal", but they are either very old or very facetious. Incidentally, its use in this sense would have been meaningless once. When, in the 15th century, the word came to England via France, it meant much the same as estimate, which was from the same Latin source, so in its early days the verb always needed a qualifying adverb, and the noun an adjective, esteem being high or low as the case might be. Then, for some reason hard to understand, people fairly soon started saying "esteem" when they meant "value highly", though the earlier use persisted here and there until the last century. Anyway, its serious career is pretty well over now. Too creepy altogether.
Another word for what Mr Portillo and the carers, those unlikely bedfellows, are on about? Well, even self-respect would surely be better.Reuse content