Building the Community-Pharmacy Partnership aims to:
Establish stronger partnerships between local communities and community Pharmacists to address local health needs using a community development approach.
Local communities and community pharmacists have a significant role to play in what could be described as the social fabric of a community. They both have a vast range of skills, expertise and information that can be used in different ways, in different settings and using different approaches to help support a wide range of individuals and groups in your area.
In Northern Ireland there are currently over 500 community pharmacists with a Health Service contract. They are unique in that they are one of the most accessible members of the primary care team and are essentially an open door to the health service. They have regular contact with healthy as well as sick people, can be contacted without an appointment and are able to give information on a range of health issues.
The most regular users of the pharmacy are those most vulnerable to poor health - the poor, the elderly, those with young children, and other marginalised groups such as those with disabilities, mental health problems and their carers. The community pharmacy is well placed to work in partnership with local communities to help improve the health of those that are most likely to excluded from mainstream health and social care.
Often we see pharmacists as people who only dispense our medicines but pharmacists, their staff and their premises have much more they can offer in relation to skills and knowledge on a range of health issues. Their pharmacies could be used as a community resource where information can be accessed on health and general wellbeing, as well as being somewhere that people can be sign posted to other services. If the pharmacy has room, there may also be opportunities to offer other support services in the premises.
It is clear that the community and voluntary sector play a very active role in local communities. They may focus on particular needs e.g. education, employment, environment and health or on the needs of a specific group e.g. carers, people with arthritis, older people and teenagers.
By working together, sharing ideas and expertise, local groups and pharmacists can complement what is already taking place and increase the ability to meet local health needs. BCPP recognises that the determinants of health are many and multi-faceted. Our work seeks to address the root causes of ill-health through using a community development approach to assist communities to take responsibility for their health and well-being. The approach focuses on using a social model of health to addressing local need. This clearly fits in with the aims of CDHN whose purpose is to make a significant contribution to ending health inequalities, using a community development approach.