Self-Care Week 2020
As the most accessible healthcare professionals in the UK, community pharmacists are seen as central to the future of self care.
It’s been widely proclaimed now is the time to place community pharmacy at the heart of self care, a belief cemented by the sector’s frontline response to the coronavirus pandemic as it continues to provide reassuring support to patients.
Throughout the outbreak it’s been at the forefront of providing medicines and self care advice – something which has helped re-shape public attitudes to the valuable role it plays while emphasising the importance of preserving the NHS.
Having championed self care through pharmacy for almost 30 years, we’re backing the call for our highly skilled pharmacists and their teams to lead the self care revolution.
As a brand committed to helping pharmacy provide self-treatment answers to many everyday health concerns, we are supporting the Self Care Forum’s annual NHS-backed awareness initiative Self Care Week, taking place from 16th-22nd November.
And we’re really hoping you’ll join us!
Under the ‘Live Self Care for Life’ banner, pharmacies, healthcare professionals and organisations across the country are coming together to embed support for self care and empower people to better care for their physical and mental health.
Ade Williams, Superintendent Pharmacist at Bedminster Pharmacy, in Bristol and board member of the Self Care Forum
We spoke to passionate self care advocate Ade Williams, Superintendent Pharmacist at Bedminster Pharmacy, in Bristol and board member of the Self Care Forum, about community pharmacy’s role in self care and the importance of sector support for the awareness campaign.
How is community pharmacy well placed to help with self care?
“The first place to start is to always remember that community pharmacy itself is already a facilitator of self care – according to recent statistics published in the PSNC’s Pharmacy Advice Audit in an average week English pharmacies carry out over 600,000 consultations in response to patients’ symptoms.
“The volume of work that community pharmacy does and the access that it offers for everybody makes it the most accessible part of the healthcare system. What has been particularly demonstrated throughout the Covid period, is its adaptability.
“It is the gateway to the NHS. I think there is now almost no argument on that.
“But we also know it is going beyond that. What people want is to have the resources, knowledge, skills and, if necessary, the evidence-led interventions to improve their care and community pharmacy does that anyway.
“Also, brilliantly, we sit at the centre of the point where public health, clinical health and social care connect. It is the unique offering of community pharmacy and when we talk about self care – which is looking at a more holistic approach and a much more partnership orientated approach in terms of how we promote broad health and wellbeing – you can see that community pharmacy is such an ideal facilitator of that. We’ve been doing that for years and rightly so, because this is what community pharmacy is really about.
What is the vision of self care in community pharmacy and how can it be implemented?
“I think the vision is to see the value of the work. There’s enough evidence that community pharmacy does this work for the system very, very well. We want to see that value remunerated by the system appropriately.
“Nobody should be doing things for free because if you do, at some point, when you’re under pressure, you tell yourself we shouldn’t be doing this for free and rightly so.
“We also want to see community pharmacies grow in this space and be used to tackle endemic health inequalities. I don’t think it’s too difficult for us to stretch our imagination that if you don’t have good self care practices or people are not availing themselves of good self care, they are more likely to be people who are socioeconomically disadvantaged in our society.”
On a practical level what can pharmacies provide?
“Advice, highly trained, competent clinicians providing advice and cost-effective products and free resources.
“Being a community health and wellbeing hub is a vision in the Community Pharmacy Forward View document and I think actually self care would be at the centre of that vision.
“If you are going to believe community pharmacy will be a health and wellbeing hub for their communities, as a patient you would want to step in and speak to clinicians that have up to date information and know what is appropriate, and have evidence that supports that. Also being able to signpost people to access more resources which will help to embed good self care.
“It should also be integrated into the system so that when you do turn up and your particular clinical needs require more urgent attention or referral, you are the gateway into the system, you’re not just a bus stop and if the right number doesn’t come you have to move on to the next bus stop.”
How can pharmacies make the most of Self Care Week?
“Self Care Week is a great opportunity, not just in terms of the breadth of the resources the Self Care Forum provide, but also for us to align ourselves to the wider health and social care eco system because it’s the one time of the year so many different organisations can own the same message.
“For community pharmacy to be part of that reminds people of our role in this because the population around us sometimes struggles to understand where we fit in.
“Because the ‘self care for life’ message means different things to different people depending on who they are and where they live, it’s an opportunity to focus on different aspects on a local level. It also brings in a renewed opportunity to focus in on what the Self Care Forum can offer us that we may never have really taken advantage of.
“At our pharmacy we’ve used the week to focus on the particular health needs we know exist within our community. We’ve used it to talk about mental health, which is an emotive and sensitive subject but when you phrase it around complete health and being of equal measure to physical health, everybody values that. We’ve also used it to focus on the pockets of social deprivation in our area.
“In the past we’ve linked up with council-run physical fitness and gym providers to offer a free taster week pass and highlight free activities locally such as walking groups, dog walking groups and park runs so that people can see some of the things they know they should be doing are easily accessible.
“Of course, we download resources from the Self Care Forum to help us deliver our messages and we’re able to measure the level of people engaging with that and look at the outcomes by doing things like quizzes to tackle health literacy while educating them.”
“It’s also good opportunity to explain to people what the phrase ‘self care’ means. It doesn’t mean no care and it’s not a cost-saving opportunity or a deferment of care, but it’s about giving people a broader understanding.”
Self Care Week is also being used as a timely approach to reignite self care practice for the anticipated second wave of Covid-19 with an emphasis on supporting and encouraging people to protect themselves and others against the virus.
Last year over a thousand individuals and organisations took part, staging events, getting involved in Twitter chats and community activities which focused on the self-treatment of common conditions.
Orchestrated by the Self Care Forum charity, which took over the Department of Health’s National Self Care Week in 2011, it also promotes better use of the NHS by signposting people to the right service relevant to their health needs.
There are a range of resources freely available to promote Self Care Week activities on the Self Care Forum website.
How we’ve put self care into practice
Our self care culture goes beyond the provision of over-the-counter products for everyday health concerns.
As well as providing free NPA-approved training across common conditions to support the delivery of self-treatment advice to patients, we launched a ‘Wellbeing at Work’ module in recognition of the extreme day-to-day pressures facing our pharmacy teams and even more recently a ‘Business Skills for Pharmacy’ module.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to Ade – who is also an Associate Non-Exec Director of North Bristol NHS Trust and recently appeared among a series of NHS worker portraits taken by eminent photographer John Rankin to recognise their role in coronavirus pandemic – for giving us his insight into self care.
Our very best wishes to everyone taking part in Self Care Week 2020!
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