Networking is key to a successful HLP according to pharmacist Penny Rae who works at Drybrook Pharmacy in Gloucestershire. Her pharmacy provides an impressive list of services including smoking cessation, dementia awareness, flu vaccination and sexual health schemes but what really makes a difference is how they ensure healthcare professionals, service providers, patients and carers are fully aware of the good things they have to offer.
Penny explained how her team created a pharmacy 'open day' to which they invited local doctors, nurses, community health trainers and even a local MP to demonstrate the benefits of HLP to the community. This led to Penny being able to refer patients directly to the community health trainers for lifestyle sessions and support and she can also signpost patients directly to Slimming World for up to 12 free sessions.
Penny's experience is that a well-run HLP not only helps patients but may also relieve the burden of other health services. Their efficient smoking cessation service has had impressive results which means the local surgery refers all of their patients to pharmacy now, thereby freeing up nursing time for other activities.
It is evident that the success of Drybrook Pharmacy since becoming a HLP depends on the engagement of the whole pharmacy team. Everybody has their own responsibilities, whether it be taking charge of the C-card and chlamydia screening services or to train as a smoking advisor, with the advantage that people remain motivated and the workload is shared.
In fact when asked what advice she would have for any pharmacy looking to become a HLP, Penny insists that it's not possible to do it alone. 'You need your staff on board and they must be trained regularly', she explained. Although this may seem daunting at first, it's clear from the experience at Drybrook Pharmacy that good training is at the core of HLP – and what's more, it provides you with plenty of Continuing Professional Development too!