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Richmount Rural Community Association and Orchard Pharmacy

The Community Pharmacy - an invaluable service

Richmount Rural Community Association is based in Co Armagh and is strongly committed to targeting health inequalities. This large rural area has a substantial number of people in the over 60 age group and the Association encourages people to take responsibility for their own health through various initiatives.

The Association applied for Level 2 BCPP funding in partnership with Orchard Pharmacy, Portadown to run a programme supporting the physical and mental health of the local community. The proposed programme would tackle the problem of age related social isolation and promote healthy active ageing. A group of 15 older men and women were the target audience for this project and together with the Pharmacist, Paula Morgan, planned sessions which would focus on healthy active ageing.

The group felt it was important that awareness was raised of preventative health care and conditions such as strokes, heart attacks and older age health issues. Decreased mobility, eyesight and hearing meant that older people lost confidence and some became depressed and more withdrawn and reclusive so the social aspect of the project was very important. The Pharmacist and the group planned twenty weekly sessions which promoted self care through a better understanding of health issues.

The Alzheimer’s Society and Cruse Bereavement Care offered support and guidance to the group on these key issues. One session focused on pain management techniques while another focused on osteoporosis and falls. Other sessions were around diabetes, sleep, food and mood. The group embraced Tai Chi as a movement and mindful therapy – the positive effects were the same whether they sat down or stood up when they practised.

Joe Garvey, Chairman of the Association, found the project to be very beneficial for this group of older people. Joe said ‘Providing information about health and wellbeing and also being given the opportunity to ask questions and get involved in the discussions worked really well for the group. They could also speak privately to the Pharmacist and get expert advice and signposting to relevant health services. At a time when GP appointments can be limited with little time for discussion, the community pharmacy service is invaluable – the public needs to be made more aware of this service and the BCPP programme is an engaging way to do this.’

Billy, one of the participants, said it was a brilliant project, telling us ‘I had the opportunity to enquire about health issues which I couldn’t find out about elsewhere. This pharmacy project was another one of my “keep young tickets”. It helped keep me both physically and mentally fit. I also got many tips about healthy living for someone of my age. The project was fun and enjoyable and I now intend to call with the Pharmacist when I need medical advice.’

Paula, the Pharmacist, found the programme very rewarding personally. She realised that many of the group found access to their GP difficult and appreciated having time with a healthcare advisor. Relationships were built, practical advice given and changes encouraged and made!

What I liked about this project was the informality. We could ask questions about our health and find out more about our medications including if there is an interaction with these medications and other over the counter ones. I also liked being able to chat to the Pharmacist on a one to one basis. The group learned from each other about health issues and received information about healthy eating and diets. Overall it was such a great project.

Project Participant

Working with this elderly group of men and women at Richmount directly improved their knowledge and understanding as well as encouraging and supporting a healthy lifestyle. They are really interested in learning more from our group discussions – it was a pleasure to step out of my dispensary and make a real difference by offering advice.

Paula Morgan, Pharmacist