The busy winter period in pharmacy is a good opportunity to educate the public about self care, says John Smith, chief executive of the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB)

December is a busy time of year, but as many of your customers finally stop and relax in between Christmas and the New Year, the cold weather, infections, stress, plentiful socialising and overindulgence can all lead to people suffering from winter illness over the festive period.

In the days before and after Christmas and New Year, A&E departments typically experience an unwelcome increase in the number of people visiting when most GP surgeries are closed. With urgent care services under particular pressure this year, it’s vital that more people are encouraged to manage self-treatable conditions at home or via the pharmacy, so that A&E resources are rightly spared for the seriously ill and for emergencies.

According to PAGB’s Self Care Nation research, 56 per cent of people said they use a community pharmacy to pick up a repeat prescription, and many of these are likely to be visiting in the coming weeks to make sure they have enough of their medicines to see them through Christmas.1

This gives the community pharmacy team the opportunity to educate people on the wider services and advice that your pharmacy can offer and to make sure that customers know what to do if they fall ill over the festive period.

A local, accessible, healthcare resource

This Christmas, make sure that people recognise community pharmacy as their local, accessible, healthcare resource. Most local pharmacies will be open through the Christmas period and staff can proactively remind customers of your seasonal opening times – demonstrating that you are open when others are closed.
Posters and counter top displays can also be used to display key self care messages for customers to read while waiting for their prescriptions.

‘Festive’ themed product displays featuring OTC medicines to treat common winter holiday-time conditions, such as indigestion, coughs and colds, may also help prompt people to be more prepared to self care.
Christmas is a good opportunity to promote community pharmacy as the healthcare professional on the high street, to demonstrate the importance of self care and raise awareness of the services you offer as a walk-in service.

The more successful we all are in doing this, the more that people will think of their local pharmacy as the first port of call for self-treatable conditions – throughout their lifetime and not just at Christmas!

Reference

1. Survey with 5,011 UK adults, carried out by Pure Profile on behalf of the Proprietary Association of Great Britain. Sept 2016.

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