Olutayo is the superintendent pharmacist at The Priory Community Pharmacy, a not-for-profit social enterprise set up to serve one of the most deprived areas in Dudley, West Midlands. Under her leadership, The Priory has consistently delivered a range of services to support the community.
Think outside box
She said in the current climate pharmacists must think outside the box to build their businesses. “We need to look at a different way of working,” she told the conference, citing a range of services that pharmacists can introduce to safeguard the health needs of their local communities.
“Self-care is what we do in community pharmacy every day,” she said, adding: it’s “all about empowering our patients” and the public to take more control over their lives.
This, she explained, is done by preventing ill-health, including the actions taken to maintain both physical and mental health.
Self-care also includes caring for minor ailments, managing long-term conditions and maintaining health after an acute illness – “it’s about empowering patients to understand their condition and how to live with it.”
On building a self-care business in community pharmacy, Olutayo’s mantra seems to be to “keep calm and collaborate.”
She believes pharmacists will achieve a lot by collaborating with each other because together they will stand stronger. But the collaboration needs to be broadened to include other health professionals too.
“My pharmacy does a lot of collaboration with other healthcare professionals: we have groups that provide contraception services in pharmacy, we have mental health professionals.”
Working together with the wider providers, community pharmacists are ideally placed to support the health and wellbeing agenda due to accessibility.
Olutayo said: “The Healthy Living Pharmacy concept is one of the best things that has ever happened to community pharmacy because it helps the pharmacist and the pharmacy team to think about making every contact count rather than being behind their desk, dispensing.”
Citing data from The King’s Fund, she said long-term conditions accounted for 50 per cent of all GP appointments, 64 per cent of all outpatient appointments and over 70 per cent of all inpatient bed days.
About 15 million people in England have one or more long-term health conditions – that’s quite significant. And according to PSNC sixty-four per cent of people living with long-term health conditions feel they are not well-supported.
“That’s an opportunity for community pharmacy because community pharmacies have 1.6 million visits daily,” she said.
“This gives us a great chance to engage with our patients and have a conversation to give them the assurance that we can provide them with all the support they may need.”
She is passionate about her local community and knowing the people is very important to her. She told the conference that she even organised pole dancing classes on the pharmacy premises as well well as running laughter yoga and sessions for fitness.
“I really believe that if you take care of your community, they will take care of you.”
Ill health caused by unhealthy lifestyle costs UK billions of pounds every year. Olutayo said there could be a real opportunity here for community pharmacy who can save the NHS a lot of money, by helping people and supporting them to make healthier lifestyle choices.
“Smoking costs £5.2 billion, obesity costs £4.2 billion, alcohol £3.5 billion and physical inactivity £1.1 billion.
“But how do we know what to do in community pharmacy, what will work best?”
Olutayo recalled “doing a few years ago need assessment for services in my area” and the services she successfully promoted included alcohol awareness, obesity campaign, sexual health.
She told the conference that Public Health England’s National Health Profiles would give a pharmacist a good idea about the service needs in the area they could be interested in and find out the service gaps. She called these the “money pots” for community pharmacy.
Olutayo shared with the conference how she made the most of the opportunity by hiring a specialist private company who recruited her pharmacy patients who were eligible for NHS funded health checks.
However, she said services don’t always have to be NHS funded. There are a number of private services with which community pharmacists can support their patients. Many people will be happy to spend on diabetes, hypertension and weight management.
“Never assume your patient’s pocket. People will spend on what matters to them including aesthetics services.”
“For example, life coaching is a fairly expensive service we introduced in our area which is a largely deprived part of West Midlands. Yet we have people willing to pay £45 a week for the service and we have at least two appointments each week.”
She said sometimes it may be worthwhile to push the envelope to actually find out if a service will work.
“First provide the service, collect the data and send them to your commissioners. When I started needle exchange, all commissioners said no, there’s no funding.”
Despite that, she continued the service for three months and waited for the figures which helped explain the local and today it’s been a successful service.
Olutayo’s idea of collaboration also includes her team, the pharmacy staff who represent the pharmacist at the shop front.
“It is our staff who get to see the patients first. We have to empower of staff to be able to make every contact count.”
But most importantly, she told the pharmacists attending the conference that they needed to take care of themselves first because “you are your most important asset… You will be able to be there for your patients only if you have the right mental health and the right physical health.”
This article also appears in the November issue of Pharmacy Business.