MediCare Pharmacy Group has been participating in the ‘Building the Community Pharmacy Partnership’ programme with Carrickfergus YMCA for many years now. In November 2016, MediCare pharmacist, Stephanie Smith, began working with the programme.
Co-ordinating her sessions alongside Josh Humphreys from the YMCA, Stephanie met her group for the first time at an introductory session led by herself in the Parents and Kids Together (PAKT) Centre in Carrickfergus.
Stephanie wanted to meet the group of young adults, who were aged 16-25 to get an idea of the sort of topics that particularly interested them. These areas of interest turned out to be very varied and diverse, ranging from topics such as drugs, alcohol and smoking, to mental health and stress management.
Over the course of nine weeks, Stephanie delivered a weekly session, producing relevant and evidence-based course material for the group. Her pharmacy-led sessions, which covered core pharmacy services including the free Minor Ailments service and the Stop Smoking Programme, were interspersed with health-related activities, which were thoroughly enjoyed by the group.
Following one session on healthy diet and exercise, the group took part in a Body Combat Class in Carrickfergus Amphitheatre. It wasn’t all hard work though, as the group also attended the Belfast Continental Market to experience staple foods of various cultures!
The group also availed of free health checks, such as blood pressure and blood glucose monitoring, as these are services provided by many MediCare Pharmacies, while another valuable session focused on depression and anxiety in young people: issues that are currently prevalent in Northern Ireland.
By the end of the programme, the group had gained an abundance of useful information on areas as diverse as community pharmacy services, health advice and stress management techniques. Everyone also admitted that they felt more inclined to discuss such matters with their local community pharmacist and other healthcare professionals as required.
‘Involvement in the programme has, at a personal level, been very enjoyable,’ Stephanie said, ‘and has given me experience in working with this local community group, with the result that I now understand their needs better. This experience also ensures that they have a better awareness of what community pharmacy can offer them. I also thoroughly enjoyed working with a local organisation such as the YMCA, as I now fully appreciate the valuable role that it plays in our local communities. I could not have asked for a better team of young people to be involved with in the project, and I feel glad to have been able to give something back to the local community in which I work.’