Have you ever been sent on a course by your boss? Did you share my sentiments which were along the lines of….”Oh well, they will provide a free lunch!” “At least I am still going to get paid for sitting down and listening, rather than having to run around and deal with a mix of customers…when I say a mix, I mean a mix…in any medical related role you mix with the nice, the not so nice, the friendly, the scary, the happy, the crazy, the smelly, the funny, the ones that touch your heart and bring a tear to your eye and the ones that frankly…there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with them, but they just love coming to have a chatter.
I was sent on a course a while ago. It was a one day course. My manager didn’t tell me much about it before. She just asked me to take notes because she wanted me to conduct a training session with the whole team afterwards. I passed the exam at the end of the training course and received my certificate…and as everyone else who has completed the training course successfully I am now a “Healthy Living Champion”.
I was impressed at the course content and surprised that were parts of the day that brought tears to me eyes and sent me away full of conviction and motivation that I wanted to apply what I had learnt once I was back at work. It taught me a very special lesson: You can make a difference. If you can make a difference to just one person, it is worth the effort.
So motivated was I, that the training session I delivered to the rest of the team, was in a way that moved them to tears. I don’t think they have ever quite seen me in the same light since that day.
I would like to invite you into our training meeting and let me know if you think we can make a difference. Here goes:
What kind of weather do you like? (I asked the team to call out what they like.) Do you like the glorious sunshine we are enjoying at the moment? Or do you love it when it snows and we all get to go out and have snowball fights and build snowmen? Or maybe you are secretly a puddle plodder…who likes nothing better than jump in puddles when nobody is looking like Gene Kelly from “Singin’ In The Rain”?
I am no expert in the weather…but apparently a major factor in the type of weather we will experience is PRESSURE.
Well…right now there is a storm that is circling our globe. It is a storm that is bringing with it devastating diseases and premature deaths. It is wreaking havoc on the lives of individuals and families. Unhealthy, harmful habits and unsafe practices are causing harm on an unprecedented scale. And one of the major factors that is driving this storm is PEER PRESSURE.
It could be within families, communities, associates at work or within a person’s social circle that they are learning either healthy habits…or harmful ones which will lead to devastating consequences.
What can be done to combat the harm that is being done?
One strategy that the NHS is trying to promote to fight the effects of this storm is a huge team of Healthy Living Pharmacies. They also hope as many of us as possible will train to become Healthy Living Champions.
What is a Healthy Living Pharmacy? In essence, it is a Super-Pharmacy.
In a Healthy Living Pharmacy, every member of the team focuses on opportunities to promote healthy living choices with as many customers as possible.
Who are our customers?
I would like you to take a little look at these pictures (I know it looks a bit scrappy…I cut some pictures out of information leaflets I had a stash of and made it about half an hour before I was asked to start the training session).
Each member of the pharmacy team should be thinking about our customers.
We are encouraged to MECC: Make Every Contact Count.
To do what exactly? We want to:
- empower people to make informed choices about their lifestyle
- signpost them to help and support to maintain healthy habits
What exactly are we supposed to talk about? Well, any of these subjects. Have a look at the main areas where the NHS would like us to be prepared to encourage people to make wise decisions that will contribute to their own health and happiness both now and in the future.
The two subjects on a gold background were highlighted as the two biggest areas of concern in the UK now.
- Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable illness and disease
- Dementia is now the biggest killer in the UK
We have a wealth of resources now so that we can help people who are trying to give up smoking and those who are effected by dementia. This includes local services and support groups.
We have a signposting folder full of information and contact details to be able to help our customers in any area.
We also have the NHS Choices website through which we can access information on many local health services. The information on the NHS Choices website is authoritative and reliable. Every member of the pharmacy team should be familiar with navigating it and should use it liberally to help our customers.
In addition our local health authorities determine which are special areas of need in our local area. They provide regular updates on what they would like us to focus on.
(At this point I had arranged for a student who we had with us for a few weeks to come wandering into the training session….he pretended to be a customer who was concerned about some of his symptoms. I demonstrated how we could help him by using both information from our sign-posting folder and the NHS Choices website. He could have won an Oscar for his performance!)
Now you might be thinking…
“People are going to make their own decisions and we are not going to make any difference to them, what is the point in going to all this effort? It is not going to make any difference whatever we say.”
Can you or I really make a difference?
Well…I would like you to imagine the following scene. (You may have heard a version of this before.) After a violent storm, tens of thousands of star-fish were washed up on to a beach, beyond the reach of the normal tide level. Once the sun began to rise, the star-fish were at serious risk of dying. A local man observing the devastation noticed a little girl bending over and picking up starfish one at a time and throwing them into the sea. He approached the girl and said “I know you mean well, but you do realize you are not really going to make any difference. There are tens of thousands of star-fish stranded.” The girl little girl looked at him. She thought about his words for a moment. She then bent down and picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea. She said to the man, “I just made a difference to that one.”
Remember I asked you to think about our customers.
How much would you say their life is worth? What price would you put on life? If I asked someone how much they would pay to be with their loved ones they have lost again? What would they say?
If you or I could a make a difference to just one person, or even one family, so they had a few more years of life together because of changing their lifestyle…would that be worthwhile?
Now…I have something else to tell you. Yesterday, a customer walked in and wanted to see if anyone had time to take his blood pressure. Now I don’t want to say too much as confidentiality is paramount…but it led to exactly what our training has asked us to be prepared for. He and I had a discussion about making lifestyle changes. He was so grateful for the information and goals I discussed with him. He is going to come back and we are going to help him reach his goals. I felt kind of emotional afterwards. He really was a lovely man. He has been thinking things over and he knows he needs to make changes…and he wants to. He said it has been on his mind that he cannot take his health for granted any more and he dearly wants to make the most of every moment of life he can. He thanked me so many times.
Isn’t it wonderful to realize that: You can make a difference. If you can make a difference to just one person, it is worth the effort.