The journey began in November 2012, having completed the Healthy Living Champion course I burst with enthusiasm and excitement at the new role, aiming to put all that I learnt into practice as well as pursuing more.
Starting healthy living as a new service I had great ideas of how to get it up and running. I planned to have displays and consultations, but first the ground work needed to be done. This involved starting healthy living folders with information on various health conditions, collecting all necessary data including free information leaflets, and informing our customers that we were now a healthy living pharmacy and could give them more advice on any health condition they may suffer from, how to live a healthier lifestyle and free healthy living consultations.
As this was a new initiative it took the company a few months to supply necessary equipment such as leaflet holders. During this time I started healthy living folders, set up displays each month on different conditions, and contacted charities to obtain free information leaflets for our displays - some of the best charities included 'British Heart Foundation', 'Change 4 Life', 'Diabetes UK', 'Cancer Research UK', and 'Arthritits Research UK' to name a few.
My colleagues were supportive of the concept, they liked the healthy living initiative and gave constructive critism on displays. As a team we brainstormed ideas to promote healthy living and make displays even more interesting. However due to the demands of working in a busy pharmacy colleagues did not physically contribute to displays or other organisation. Challenges included finding sufficient time to organise this new initiative and plan/set up displays due to other priorities, which occasionally lead to frustration within the team. The regional manager however, greatly supported the team whenever he visited the pharmacy, he took interest in the displays giving good feedback and taking photographs.
Initially the displays were general with all different information leaflets, however after a few months I decided to concerntrate on one health issue each month - this has been quite successful with customers reading leaflets, requesting others and asking questions and advice which has enabled pharmacy staff to better identify customer needs. We've found some displays less popular such as Sickle Cell, Cancer and Sexual Health whilst Healthy Eating and Exercise, Hypertension, Diabetes, Smoking, Alcohol, Pregnancy, Mental Health and Arthritis being among the more popular ones. It is interesting to hear customers comments 'I didn't know that' e.g. when referring to our mental health display including famous people with mental health issues, or when a child is asking their parent about something they've just seen or read. It's great to be a source of education and help to our customers. We aim to include children in our displays when appropriate and have sourced child friendly games, books, badges, bookmarks and leaflets.
In the summer our pre-registration student and I 'Healthy Living Champion' took part in an initiative at a GP surgery providing healthy lifestyle information, BP checks and consultations for the community. Now at our pharmacy, healthy living has become part of who we are, with staff engaging even more with customers to help them better understand their health issues and treatment. We are striving to include healthy living in every aspect of customer carefrom our first interaction, with the aim of being 100% successful by July 2015. Our health care assistant is very proactive in informing customers that we offer smoking cessation service and flu vaccinations and will direct them to me 'Healthy Living Champion' or the pharmacist for futher advice.
Healthy Living consultations mostly in demand at our pharmacy include Smoking Cessations, Blood Pressure Checks, Women's Health and Healthy Eating and Exercise- many of whom have wanted to lose weight. The consultations have included discussing all aspects of healthy living taking into consideration any health issues the client has, and for those wanting to lose weight we have created a diet and exercise programme. A couple of our clients that have had healthy eating consultations have lost a considerable amount of weight, one client actually went down a couple of dress sizes and halted diabetes. Success stories like this are thrilling. It has been wonderful realising all the help we are able to offer clients and how accommodating charities are in providing information leaflets, DVD's, models and other informative information.
I am totally enjoying my role as a Healthy Living Champion it has definitely made my job as a Pharmacy Technician more rewarding. Iam confident in carrying out this role and thoroughly enjoy the progress. It has lead me to studying more work related courses during my spare time. I now have ambitions to take healthy living out into the community through holding talks and displays at other establishments
Being able to acquire information for customers that they have found difficult to source from elsewhere: vasculitis information.
Providing information and encouragement to parents regarding children's diet, and difficulty to get them to eat.
Helping the community live a healthier life.
Providing information to a young man who consumes a lot of alcohol, explaining the amount of recommended units and health issues drinking can cause. It was great to see him realise that he's drinking too much and him associating his drinking causing the heath issue he has.
Great seeing children excited to receive education games, and interacting with family or staff regarding the display.