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Helping the most vulnerable in our society

The Community Support for Community Pharmacy Scheme was established by Community Development & Health Network (CDHN) to co-ordinate the community and voluntary sector support for community pharmacies across Northern Ireland during COVID-19.

Joanne Morgan, Director, CDHN said ‘When the crisis hit, we were very aware of the rising numbers of people having to self-isolate and shield and their need for medication to be delivered to their homes. We began contacting our members and community pharmacies that we were working with through the BCPP Programme to see how we could support them.’

Joanne continued ‘We worked in partnership with the Health and Social Care Board to develop the Pharmacy Delivery Scheme which encourages Community Pharmacies and community groups to sign up with CDHN. We then were able to match them together and provide a small amount of funding to cover volunteer costs. The response to the scheme has been fantastic with 250 pharmacies and 120 community groups registered and thousands of prescriptions delivered to date.’

Mark Timoney, Timoney Pharmacy, Lisburn engaged with a group of volunteers from The Resurgam Trust to ensure customers, who were unable to leave their homes, received their medication when they needed it.

Mark told us ‘The onset of the Coronavirus pandemic signalled several changes in how our health care system would operate for the foreseeable future. As a result, we considered ways in which our pharmacy service could respond to the impact that Covid-19 would have on the local community and how we could best guarantee ongoing access to patients’ medicines.’

Mark continued ‘We contacted CDHN whose assistance was invaluable in establishing best practice partnership arrangements for patients, our pharmacy team and the volunteers. The service, now in its third week, has proved an unqualified success. In a time of unprecedented change for the delivery of health and social care, we are able to identify housebound patients and deliver their medicines to them quickly. Our system assists the pharmacy team in meeting changing health care needs, helps the most vulnerable in our society and further strengthens relationships with the wider community.’

Gillian Lewis, Healthy Living Manager said ‘The Resurgam Trust had identified early on that people needed help to get prescriptions from pharmacies but also recognised the pressure pharmacies were under as a frontline service in supporting people to keep well and manage illness at home. Existing volunteers from our Lisburn SAFE programme and new volunteers came forward and we were delighted to provide support from our community organisation to facilitate this new service co-ordinated by CDHN.’