When we first started our HLP journey some four to five years ago, it was quite easy to engage the staff in the process, as they were already a strong and motivated team. This was the first time I attended any formal leadership training, and I haven’t looked back since then. It led me to also put a number of staff through leadership training, which has made a huge difference to my teams and to people and customers.
The most important thing is to engage the team. Don’t be driven by payment, but rather think about the impact on the team and your customers. HLP can transform the way your pharmacy works. It’s about everyone pulling in the same direction.
Being a HLP has taught the team to deliver services consistently. For example, we have delivered over 300 flu jabs with no negative feedback from local GPs. My staff also recruit patients for MURs while they are having their jab.
One of my pharmacies is in a high BME area where there is a fantastic community spirit, but high levels of certain long-term conditions, such as diabetes. To engage with individuals in making lifestyle changes, such as diet and physical activity, we often participate in local health promotion events and also run our own both in the pharmacy and as outreach at temples and community centres.
Our Nuneaton branch, which is an established HLP, is very different, having a predominantly Caucasian population, of which a large proportion is elderly. The pharmacy is in a highly deprived ward where there are high levels of smoking, teenage pregnancy, cardiovascular disease and respiratory conditions such as COPD, as well as increasing rates of dementia.
We previously had a health trainer stationed at our pharmacy. He supported our customers and trained staff. This, together with our smoking cessation service, has had the most impact. In fact, the team received national recognition and has supported other pharmacies to deliver this.
We also took part in a national early cancer awareness campaign, which worked really well. We upskilled and engaged our team to recognise red flags such as stomach problems or a cough lasting for longer than six weeks. What we didn’t want was for staff to unnecessarily worry individuals and to refer lots of people to the GPs. We made clear to the GPs that we were only sending people we were really concerned about. The GPs were more than happy to receive referrals that way, and said that if even one patient could be helped it was worth it.
Staff attended LPC-led events locally, and we also did the distance learning modules. Initially they were a little skeptical, but you only need one person to motivate the rest. We have included health champion and leadership training in staff personal development plans, so it’s almost business as usual.
Public Health England visited us this year, and they met our health champion Kelly. She had worked as a carer and so was already trained to provide care for people with dementia. Even before the Quality Payments, she made sure we were all dementia friendly – things like making sure we had a private area for customers, and not having a black mat as people walk in, because people with dementia might think it’s a hole in the ground, which frightens them.
She has lots of initiative, and by putting her on training we’ve further empowered her. She often leads initiatives and motivates the team, which engages staff more than a top down approach.
Kelly has visited people in sheltered accommodation to explain what pharmacy can do for them. We also attended a community event in Grove Farm, a relatively deprived area, to talk about services such as hypertension and blood glucose testing. The response was phenomenal – we realised that a lot of these people never access any services.
It’s not about saying to people, ‘come to our pharmacy,’; that cheapens what we do. We have to promote pharmacy as a profession. However, I do believe some people are more inclined to visit us as a result of us making the effort.
PHE’s Gul Root spoke to P3 about the impressive way that the team is using the healthy living pharmacy approach to engage patients:
“I visited Satyan Kotecha’s pharmacy in Nuneaton recently, and was thoroughly impressed with what I saw – from the layout of the pharmacy to the way their health champion was taking the lead to proactively engage with members of the public; making health promoting interventions at every opportunity. I’m keen that even more community pharmacy teams follow their example.
“Community pharmacy plays a pivotal role in supporting people to look after their health by offering a range of interventions, both in the pharmacy and within the community, such as helping people to stop smoking, sexual health services and NHS Health Checks.”