Promote travel health, promote community pharmacy
A travel health clinic is not only a great way to increase revenue, but it also showcases pharmacy as the only one stop shop for vaccinations, medication, first aid items, sunscreen, condoms and expert advice, says Michelle Dyoss.
Let people know that you offer a personalised travel health service, with advice tailored to where they are going, including vaccinations for travel and after assessing current health risks or disease outbreaks. They should visit your pharmacy at least eight weeks before they travel, so you can also check that their UK vaccinations, including flu, are up to date.
Offer patients on long-term medication a medicines use review (MUR) before they go on holiday. Ensure medicines are optimised and that they have enough for the duration of their travel and the week they return. Advise patients that medicines should be kept in their original packaging where possible; it’s a good idea to take along a copy of their prescription. It’s good practice to check the legal status of each medicine, since regulations may differ, and it’s worth considering how jet-lag may affect those taking time-specific medication, and how important correct storage during travel might be. For example, extreme heat or cold may deactivate insulin, so it should be kept in hand luggage.
Health and wellbeing advice
Sun safety: we might all love a tan and need our vitamin D, but we should encourage covering up with suitable clothing and staying out of the sun during the hottest time of the day. Long-term exposure or short periods of intense exposure and burning are the biggest risk factors for skin cancer. Sell good quality sunscreen; at least SPF 15 and four star UVA protection. Eyes should be protected with suitable sunglasses, and people advised to avoid looking directly at the sun.
Sexual health: young people in particular are more likely to engage in risky sexual activity while on holiday. Your pharmacy may offer advanced supply of emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) as a commissioned service, or provide free condoms or STI testing. Promote these with window posters, or through colleges and other young people venues. If you don't provide these services, it’s still a good idea to promote the use of condoms and signpost to a sexual health clinic for contraception and testing services. Condoms sold should carry the the BSI kite and CE quality marks; other countries may sell condoms that are not safe.
Alcohol use: alcohol consumption peaks during the summer months (and Christmas). People are also more likely to engage in risky behaviour when under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Encourage holiday makers to be conscious of how much they are drinking, to ensure they drink plenty of water and, if necessary, to take hangover remedies with them, as well as a first aid kit
Deep vein thrombosis: if your customer is flying, assess their risk of developing DVT, and advise them to drink plenty of water and perform simple leg exercises or short walking breaks while travelling, particularly if flying long haul. They may also want to consider wearing compression stockings if flying for 4 hours or more.
Period delay: women who are going on holiday may want to delay their period. You could offer norethisterone on PGD, but this service will need to be promoted well as many women will not be aware it’s available from your pharmacy without prescription.
Michelle Dyoss is a public health specialist and healthy living practice lead
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