Enes Champo, Assistant Public Health Strategist, Camden and Islington Public Health and Jusmin Chandaria, Edgerton Pharmacy, Islington explain how the concept of healthy living pharmacy’s (HLPs) can change everyday trips to the pharmacy.
It’s not every day that you walk into a pharmacy looking for pain killers and leave having had a blood test and practical tips on the best foods for keeping blood glucose stable. However, the concept of healthy living pharmacy’s (HLPs) seeks to make this the norm.
HLPs are a new initiative for the London Boroughs of Camden and Islington. The essence of them is this: customers enter into a HLP looking for medicine and over the counter prescriptions; they leave armed with relevant information to inspire them on their journey to becoming or indeed, staying healthy. The focus is on prevention.
Egerton pharmacy hopes to be one of the pioneering sites in Islington to spearhead the HLP concept in the borough. We caught up with the lead pharmacist there, Jusmin Chandaria.
As we spoke, Jusmin took me on a journey to what his vision of HLPs look like. “From the outside, you have posters and banners bearing the HLP ensign. You step in and have large floor stickers, you look up at the electronic screen which has yet more information. The customer can step to the counter and pick up leaflets on HLP and the services we offer. An important part of HLPs is that they remain visible.”
The visibility of HLPs mark something special – they are flagships of excellence within the community – centres where people know they can get health advice and information when they’re in need. HLPs are not a replacement for GPs- but an effective addition. But the drive for Jusmin and his team goes deeper: “We are becoming a HLP because it’s a greater opportunity to engage with patients and move them beyond medication and towards self-care”.
That very vision is the ethos behind HLPs. The concept, which originated in Portsmouth, recognises the significant role community pharmacies play in helping reduce health inequalities by delivering consistent and high quality health and wellbeing services, promoting health and providing proactive health advice and interventions. This could be in the form of weight management, smoking cessation or sexual health services.
HLPs also play a special role in reaching the traditionally ‘hard to reach’ groups who for whatever reason may not visit their GP for health advice or services. Jusmin talks about how time and time again the pharmacy welcomes members of the public simply looking for ad hoc services that the pharmacy offers like photocopying or passport photos and end up leaving armed with a blood pressure reading and leaflets on cardiovascular health. Another victory for prevention.
The plan is to replicate this, many times over across the borough as applications from pharmacies come in to become these centres of health and wellbeing.
As we finish our conversation, I have one last question.
“What is it that motivates you to put in all this effort to become a HLP, Jusmin?”
“What motivates us?” He pauses for a moment. “HLPs for us are about giving people a wake-up call and empowering them to take action. And of course, patients motivate us by taking an interest in our services. This has given us the opportunity to develop into more than just a pharmacy.”
More than just a pharmacy. That sounds just about right.