So you've done the training and you're keen to put your learning into action to improve the health of your community. You may not have realised it before but a dedicated area of the pharmacy with an engaging display on health matters can encourage your patients to make changes in their behaviour. These areas are sometimes called 'Health Zones' and every HLP must have one, but how can you best catch people's attention when they're waiting for their prescription or browsing the shelves?
Here are 10 tips to help create first class health promotional displays.
Your first job is to decide what you're going to promote; smoking cessation, healthy eating, a more active lifestyle, safe sex? Stick to one area, so your message doesn't become confusing but also focus on what is affecting your community. It is important to check what problems are highlighted in your local Health Profile but also notice what you see on a daily basis in your pharmacy and surrounding area. Manage your time carefully, perhaps allocating an hour a week in the run up to a big promotion and make sure you involve the rest of the team. Linking your campaigns with national events can make things even more powerful – check out the National Campaigns section on this website.
The most fantastic display will be of little use if tucked away in a quiet corner of the pharmacy. Notice where people spend most of their time and find a spot close by – for many pharmacies this will be approaching the counter or where prescriptions are handed out. Displays such as this must not be thought of as wasted valuable retail space as when done well they can help customer retention and promote other services you may provide.
3 Be SMART
SMART does not only apply to personal objectives but can also help you to make the best of your health promotion events.
- Be SPECIFIC about what you want to achieve – for example, increasing the number of people receiving a flu vaccination
- Make sure your activity is MEASURABLE – perhaps the number of people you have spoken to or referred to a service
- Is your activity ACHIEVABLE? Have you the support from others you need to make it work well, for example.
- Are you being REALISTIC? Can you really expect to talk to 500 people about their sugar intake this week?
- Does your display have a TIME-BASED approach? How long will it be there for to get maximum impact?
The display in your pharmacy should have dual purpose. Although, ultimately, you may hope to increase custom, you should also look at providing a valuable resource for your patients. You should aim to ensure that customers can gain as much information and support as possible. If you know that there are local or national services that can provide extra support, you should signpost to them. This leads us nicely to point 5...
5 Free Stuff
You've decided what you want to achieve, you have permission and you want to get started - now we need to think about practicalities. The following are some suggestions for what can be used:
Posters - great for grabbing people's attention. The best ones are not too wordy and plant the seed that making a change may benefit an individual. Look online at NHS services and charities who will usually send promotional material for free. If you're designing your own, keep them colourful and simple but watch your spelling!
Leaflets - readily available from many organisations online but drug reps can also be helpful too. Consider using a cork board to display them but have plenty to give away too.
Some people like to interact by doing things – try to get hold of props such as placebo (dummy) nicotine replacement products for example or maybe make your own. One pharmacy weighed out the teaspoons of sugar in a range of drinks to demonstrate why water is good for you but Cola is not!
Everyone likes a bargain! A freebie or special offer on healthcare products can help entice people to try something they wouldn't have done otherwise so consider what incentives can help make a change for the better. People need to know what they stand to gain so hook them in with an offer, support them and maybe you could change their long-term health and wellbeing.
You have a wonderful display in the pharmacy yet you'll notice how some people still don't seem to even register it's there. Some of us respond less well to something that's visually appealing but will engage in conversations. Make sure your team know the key messages for your activity by heart so they can talk to people at every opportunity.
You've made a real effort so make sure as many people hear about it as possible. Promote your activity on your website but also use social media. Facebook, Twitter and all the rest are fun and free! Why not even contact your local paper? Most are eager to get news stories and will happily report what you're doing.
9 Change It
Whether your health promotion activity is successful or not, keep it fresh and change your displays regularly. Think about what works best at different times of the year. January is an obvious choice for weight loss or smoking cessation, summer for skin protection but what works well at other times? Check out national campaign for extra inspiration.
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