One2One interview: Helen Walker, CEO of Carers UK
Helen Walker, chief executive of national carers charity Carers UK, explains the extensive difficulties facing carers during the COVID pandemic and how pharmacies are helping to alleviate some of the stresses.
As the pandemic has continued, there has been much greater awareness of the collateral damage – the cancer treatments interrupted, the surgeries delayed, the strains on mental health. Standing on the frontline of these issues are the millions of unpaid carers who have seen their already difficult duties become, at times, almost overwhelming. It’s not even the 9.1 million unpaid carers at the start of the pandemic who are facing such challenges; their numbers have swelled by 4.5 million since March and now stand at 13.6 million. Whether it’s people caring full-time, or “sandwich carers” – who are trying to juggle work, family and caring duties – Carers UK Chief Executive Helen Walker says the situation is extraordinarily difficult.
“In March, our report Caring Behind Closed Doors told us about this massive number of new carers,” says Helen. “But many of the existing group of unpaid carers are also doing a huge amount of extra caring. Services simply aren’t open to help them take a break and, because of social distancing restrictions, they also have limited help from family and friends, who would normally be able to take some of the burden.
“Our newest report, Caring Behind Closed Doors, Six Months On, has told us that 64% of carers haven’t been able to take any breaks over the past six months, and three quarters of carers told us they were exhausted from caring around the clock.…
inpharmacy Autumn 2018
This issue: Looks at Opiod addiction, plus a government review into Opiod prescriptions to assess the scale of the issue.
This issue: Looks at Opiod addiction, plus a government review into Opiod prescriptions to assess the scale of the issue.…
inpharmacy Summer 2018
This issue: See you sooner - how an increased role for pharmacists could ease strain on the NHS and improve access.
This issue: See you sooner – how an increased role for pharmacists could ease strain on the NHS and improve access.…
inpharmacy Spring 2018
This issue: Brexit - One year to go.
This issue: Brexit – One year to go.…
Safe Spaces and the ‘Ask for ANI’ codeword
The National Pharmacy Association is in discussions with the government about the implementation of a new codeword scheme to enable victims of domestic abuse to access support from the safety of their local pharmacy. It is a voluntary scheme and pharmacies are now being invited to register their interest in participating.
“Ask for ANI” (Action Needed Immediately) has been developed by the Home Office to provide a simple and discreet way for victims to signal to pharmacy staff that they need help accessing support from the police or other domestic abuse support services. Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, ability, socio-economic status, sexuality or background. This is why the Home Office considers pharmacies, used by people from all walks of life, as a suitable setting for the Ask for ANI scheme.
What to do if someone uses the codeword?
The scheme has been designed to enable pharmacy staff to respond to the use of the codeword using a simple and straightforward process:
Offer to accompany the person to the consultation room or private space.
Ask if they are in danger or in need of immediate help and want the police to be called.
NPA publishes “Stories from the NHS Frontline” to celebrate pharmacy heroes
The National Pharmacy Association is proud to announce the publication of an online collection of stories from pharmacy teams across the country that showcases the value and hard work of community pharmacy during the coronavirus pandemic.
Called ‘Stories from the NHS Frontline’, it appears at the nhsfrontline.com website https://nhsfrontline.com/coronavirus-stories-from-the-health-service-frontline/
The collection includes incidents where pharmacy teams have gone ‘above and beyond’ to support patients and their communities. There are also stories about communities rallying round to support their local pharmacy plus where pharmacy teams have innovated to respond to the challenges of coronavirus.
Mark Lyonette, Chief Executive of the NPA, said:
“There are many great stories in this compilation that really illustrate the heroic work that has been going on across the sector.
“We wanted to create a public platform from which pharmacy teams can describe their experiences in their own words. Overall it makes for a very authentic and compelling story of service and resilience, about which everyone can be proud.
“It’s something we’ll share with the media and policy makers, so that they are reminded of the huge contribution of pharmacy teams on the NHS frontline during the coronavirus crisis.”
The NPA will keep Stories from the NHS Frontline updated. So you can still share your stories by emailing email@example.com or by filling on the form at nhsfrontline.com…
THANK YOU! COMMUNITY PHARMACY
From a 19-month-old girl, to a Premier League football club, to the British Prime Minister – the country has paid tribute to community pharmacy. People from all walks of life, from all across the UK have been expressing their heartfelt thanks for a vital profession whose members put their lives on the line every day to help deliver the care, support and health and medical aid that is so desperately needed at these times. From public statements and letters, to social media posts and gifts, numerous people and organisations have come forward to thank their local pharmacy and the profession as a whole.
While when windows are thrown open and people stand on their doorsteps applauding every Thursday at 8pm, many are cheering for and thanking community pharmacy. While, on a more sombre note, on 28 April at 11am, a minute’s silence was observed to honour the key workers, including pharmacists, who had lost their lives working for the good of the country during this pandemic.
Among those observing the silence was NPA Chair Andrew Lane, who said: “Today, the nation fell silent in remembrance of healthcare workers who’ve fallen victim to coronavirus. “On behalf of the NPA, I want to pay my respects to those pharmacists and pharmacy team members who have had their lives cut short tragically by this virus.…
COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease spread mainly through droplet infection. There is currently no vaccine or treatment, so it is recommended that people working in health and social care settings wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
Public Health England guidance, published on 2 April and updated 10 days later, recommends the sessional use of fluid-resistant (Type IIR) surgical masks for community pharmacy, if social distancing of two metres cannot be maintained. Sessional use refers to the period of time a staff member works in a specific environment.
Senior politicians and officials have said they will do whatever it takes to keep pharmacy staff safe. However, this promise is proving difficult to deliver in practice.
It is clear that many pharmacists are still struggling to get hold of face masks in the quantity needed for safety and continuity of service. The NPA is continuing to lobby for supplies to reach pharmacy teams urgently. We stress that a functioning medicines and pharmacy service needs a safe and functioning workforce.
How to access PPE:
It is understood that a PPE portal owned by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is being developed in conjunction with eBay. Until this is launched, the DHSC advises that community pharmacy continue to utilise existing channels:
Order references for masks in stock from wholesalers are:
Local Resilience Forums (LRFs).…
The big question
After a TV pundit called pharmacists “pretend doctors”, we ask three pharmacists what they perceive their role to be.
Title: Pharmacy Manager
Pharmacy: Turriff, Aberdeenshire
The notion of what a pharmacist is and what activities or behaviours that word evokes really needs to be completely re-imagined. Our collective relationship with patients and their medicine is central to this future tale. Hepler and Strand told the story of pharmaceutical care back in 1990. This concept and associated story sought to position pharmacists as the guardians of medicines. Safety was the watch word. It never happened as they believed it would I feel. I believe that was down to the lack of digital communication technology capability at the time. We need to re-imagine the story we wish to tell and I think the identity should be built around pharmaceutical care in a digital age. Let’s carve out this new cloudbased guardian of medicines role and find our place once again. It’s about data and what we do with it to make things safer for patients. If we don’t achieve this, then the tech start-ups will steal a march on us and then the pharmacy funding crisis will be the least of our worries.
Title: Owner and Pharmacist
Pharmacy: Prescription Service, Knutsford
So what is a pharmacist? It’s a good question.…
Digital engagement through patient apps
Two digital healthcare companies have become NPA business partners, helping independent pharmacies to improve medicines use and meet consumer demand for mobile health apps.
MedAdvisor and Healthera provide apps that allow community pharmacies to complement, via a digital platform, the face-to-face dialogue that takes place on the pharmacy premises. Through the apps, community pharmacists can support their patients to manage their own medication on their mobile devices.
MedAdvisor, a digital medication management company presently in Australia, the USA and Asia, is getting ready to launch its app in the UK. Its NHS-accredited app allows customers to get convenient script refills and renewals, see an up-to-date list of all their medication, pre-order medications from the comfort of their home and set reminders on when to take their medication. There is also a Digital Adherence Programme within the app, which helps patients to take their medication safely, effectively and on time.
Healthera has been operating in the UK since 2016 and has been accredited by the NHS. It too helps patients to manage their repeat prescriptions and medication, book appointments and contact their pharmacist for clinical advice. The digital connection adds to the convenience of the pharmacy service and helps to optimise medicines use.
Laura Sims, Head of Membership at the NPA, said: “We want to help NPA members provide excellent patient engagement using digital tools that can offer real efficiencies for community pharmacy as well as convenience for patients.…