February Blog 2017 – The Paradigm of Healthy Living Pharmacies

The Paradigm of Healthy Living Pharmacies

Each working day we dispense medicines to help patients get better, feel better and live longer. We offer advice on how to live with health problems, avoid health problems and stay healthy for longer. We do all this, but could we do more or do things even better?

The answer is yes. The Healthy Living Pharmacy (HLP) concept was initially developed in Portsmouth in 2009. Since then the idea has gone from strength-to-strength to become an ongoing national programme. Currently, there are 2,000+ pharmacies accredited, or on route to being accredited, as HLPs; they employ over 3,500 pharmacy staff qualified as health champions. This represents a serious investment in public health services.

If every pharmacy was a Healthy Living Pharmacy there would be many more business opportunities. HLPs are well liked by customers with 99% approval ratings in evaluations. Commissioners are attracted by HLPs, because they have proven commitment to service delivery and engagement with the public health agenda (HLP Level 1 status could become a contractual gateway criterion). Also, HLPs sit very well with the concept of “place” as set out in Sustainability and Transformation Plans.

So, what would a member of the public notice when they visited an HLP? The pharmacy would have a different ethos – being an HLP isn’t just about the “badge” it involves a change of culture as well. The Health Champion, and other staff, may proactively approach them about health and wellbeing issues and will know about local services for referral or signposting. There will be a health promotion zone and there should be a health promotion campaign running which is linked into local priorities and health needs.

What does becoming a HLP involve?

  • A pharmacy must have at least one qualified Health Champion with the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) Level 2 Award in Understanding Health Improvement. This qualification provides Health Champions with an understanding of the principles of promoting health and wellbeing of the local population.
  • The pharmacy must meet a set of quality criteria, including consistent delivery of commissioned services. This is self-assessed using the Public Health England HLP Level 1 Quality Criteria guidance and be appropriately evidenced. The quality criteria are set around workforce development, premises and engagement. Achieving HLP Level 1 is now a quality payment criterion for the new Quality Payments Scheme.
  • Leadership training, a key component and vital element, supports the development of the pharmacy team and changes the culture from reactive to proactive provision of health services.

The HLP concept provides a framework for commissioning public health services through three levels of increasing complexity and required expertise. A good example of this would be a smoking service:

  • Core – health promotion, self care, signposting, OTC supply of NRT
  • Level 1 Promotion – pro-active health promotion, brief advice, assess willingness to quit, signpost to services
  • Level 2 Prevention – NHS stop smoking service, cancer awareness, Health Check
  • Level 3 Protection – COPD and cancer risk assessment with referral; prescriber for stop smoking service

Still not convinced, and think HLP accreditation is too difficult? Well help is at hand. Health Education East Midlands (HEEM) has provided funds to pay for Health Champion Training and Leadership Training (mapped to HLP criteria). This training will be organised by the LPC and will be delivered by accredited training providers across Derbyshire. The opportunity is open to every pharmacy in the county and 100% take-up would clearly show the commitment of community pharmacy to deliver on the public health front.

Changes to the pharmacy contract, workload pressures, and funding concerns all come together to make “a perfect storm.” In the face of this storm it’s time to up skill our frontline staff, commit resources to developing our workforce and show that we are ready for any opportunities that come our way. In short, it’s time for a paradigm shift…


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