Building the Community-Pharmacy Partnership (BCPP) is a unique funding programme that brings local communities and Community Pharmacies together to work on local health projects. Developed in 2001, BCPP is managed by the Community Development and Health Network, a Northern Ireland based charity which promotes the use of community development to tackle health inequalities.
Fermanagh Sports & Cultural Awareness Association is based in Ballinamallard, an area of rural deprivation and isolation.
The Association’s BCPP project worked with 14 men aged 50 plus, some of whom had mental and physical health issues, as well as feeling socially isolated. Due to the small number of participants and the already well-founded relationships from a previous BCPP project, the men felt safe when discussing what were sometimes very personal issues. The sessions consisted of a range of health-based seminars and activities that would help improve the health of the group members. Sessions from organisations such as AWARE NI, NI Chest, Heart and Stroke and Diabetes UK were balanced with others on healthy eating, exercise and cooking.
Through the project, the health literacy of the participants was improved, as well as their understanding of how social factors (for example, money worries, housing and stress) can impact on health. A critical outcome was that the men became more confident to self-manage their health.
During the programme, the local pharmacist was available for one-to-one support and sessions on medicine management, repeat dispensing and health checks. The pharmacist found involvement in BCPP projects gave him a better understanding of the context and conditions of people’s lives and factors influencing their health. He also saw the pharmacy being better utilised, particularly important with no GP in the village.
The men found that meeting and engaging with others in similar circumstances, reduced feelings of self-blame and hopelessness. They realised they were not alone and they had support to make small changes in their personal health and wellbeing and the opportunity to address bigger issues together as part of the group.
I thoroughly enjoyed the informative health talks delivered by our local Pharmacist in an informal relaxed manner. They highlighted the need for us to take ownership of our health. I feel now that it is easier to talk to Thomas, our Pharmacist, and have approached him for advice many times already.Project Participant
The project has definitely helped me to engage more with the local community. I really look forward to the sessions as there is now a trust between us and everyone contributes well. I find the men will now call with me to seek help and advice.Thomas Knox, Pharmacist