Building the Community-Pharmacy Partnership

The Building the Community-Pharmacy Partnership (BCPP) is a partnership between the Community Development and Health Network (CDHN) and Integrated Care, Health and Social Care Board with strategic direction offered by a multi-agency Steering Group. The programme aims to:

Promote and support local communities to work in partnership with community pharmacists to address local health and social wellbeing needs using a community development approach.

The programme works towards:

  • Increasing local people’s skills, encouraging community activity and self help
  • Increasing local people’s understanding of health issues
  • Encouraging local people to play a role in promoting health

One example of the partnership is the “Women in Mind” project in Lisburn, read more about their story here:

When Boots Pharmacy community pharmacist, Eamon O’Donnell partnered up with Lisburn YMCA as part of the Building the Community Pharmacy Partnership (BCPP), he was excited and slightly apprehensive as he was unsure of what to expect from the collaboration. As Eamon explained, “I had only just qualified the year before and my experience of working with groups within the YMCA remit which included at risk young people and adults was limited. However a year on, I have to say it was an amazing experience, both on professional and personal level.”

The first group supported by the partnership which is was “Woman in Mind”, a local group consisting of 15 socially isolated women living with a number of health issues including depression and anxiety. This isolation left many unable to leave their own homes.

Members of the group were also coping with additional health concerns including migraine and Fibromyalgia, a long-term condition causing pain all over the body. To treat their illnesses, the women were prescribed a number of medicines; however many were disillusioned and at times suspicious of their medication and as a consequence were often choosing not to take their medication as recommended.

In an attempt to improve the group’s health, trust and confidence issues; Eamon and Sharon Dickson, Senior Manager with YMCA devised a programme looking at their medication, emotional health, well-being, diet and exercise. The approach consisted of 1-1 support, group work, information sessions and peer support. Delivered in an informal and interactive way, this user-driven programme set about improving health outcomes by destroying myths about medication and encouraging concordance through the involvement of the group in decision-making to improve their compliance with medical advice.

By participating in the project the women’s confidence increased, they are more independent and have developed a deeper understanding of their medicines and the reasons for taking them. The role of the community pharmacist was also highlighted and the group members felt that they were more inclined to visit a community pharmacy to find out more about pharmacy services including:
• Minor ailments
• Smoking Cessation Service
• Health checks such as blood pressure and BMI
• Medicine Use Reviews (MURs)

Sharon Dickson, explained the difference the partnership has made to the group, “There has been fantastic progress made, we are at now a point at which the women are running the programme. They now feel suitably empowered to do so and the social isolation they previously experienced has diminished. When the project first started, it was a very different story with many of the women feeling unable to leave the house. Now they see the group as a lifeline which has provided structure to their lives and has given them the opportunity to take control of different aspects of their life – be that their medication or diet and lifestyle.”

Discussing some of the outcomes of the partnership in terms of his role as a community pharmacist, Eamon said,

“I definitely feel that I have a better knowledge of vulnerable groups in our community. I’m now in a position to empathise and understand some of the barriers to healthcare which exist, such as lack of understanding and mistrust of their medicines. Previously members of the group wouldn’t have always taken their medication as they were anxious about the side-effects. I was able to explain how their medicines worked, the benefits and the reasoning behind taking them. With this better understanding they started to take their medication properly, which means better patient outcomes, less medicine wastage and fewer trips to the GP to discuss their anxiety about their tablets.”

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