17% of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week and 11% are in contact less than once a month. At South London Cares, our aim is to reach people who might not have people to spend time with day to day, and connect them to their neighbours for fun and friendship. We’ve found linking up with partners in the community – particularly pharmacies, GP surgeries and supermarkets – is a brilliant way of reaching people.
One of our longest standing community partnerships began in May 2016 with Hills Pharmacy in Kennington. We met pharmacist Kar Man at a Local Care Network meeting focused on isolation and loneliness, and we’ve been working together ever since. Within a month, we had organised our first afternoon of outreach at the pharmacy. He handed out flyers with prescriptions to people aged over 65 to promote our visit. We set up a table, decorated it with pictures of our volunteers and older neighbours enjoying each other’s company at pub clubs, reggae nights and tech workshops, and chatted to waiting customers about South London Cares and what we do.
On our most recent visit to Hills Pharmacy we checked in with Kar Man to get his view on our partnership and how it helps to connect his local community:
Customers were coming to me for advice that I couldn’t provide. If I couldn’t help I could only recommend that they go to the GP, but I realised with primary care we can’t always provide everything holistically.
It doesn’t take up any of my time and doesn’t take any hard work, we just give you the space to provide your excellent service and you’re doing something I know we can’t provide.
A couple of people said they have attended your social clubs and have really enjoyed them. Not only that but one of them said they’re going to try and get their friend to go along too. You guys have done that in a very short space of time. I know for a fact that if you weren’t here I wouldn’t have spoken to that person much apart from their medicines– I would never have asked the questions: how are you feeling today? Is there anything else I can help you with? Now I can say there is this organisation I can put you in touch with, would you be interested?
I really want other pharmacists to get involved for 3 reasons:
1) It’s another way to engage with and help your patients
2) From working with South London Cares you can understand more about what organisations are out there in the area
3) If we can show that working together works, then we can connect with community groups instead of using the NHS all the time.
Since the start of this year we’ve spoken to 57 people over 65 at Hills pharmacy who’d never heard of South London Cares. Take Tony who we met in January 2017 at the pharmacy. He has been coming along to our social clubs ever since! Last month he went to our Film Club in Elephant & Castle and joined us for a Pimm’s Party at PWC.
If you work in a pharmacy in Southwark or Lambeth and would like to partner with us or find out more, please get in touch – email [email protected].
Posted by Elyssa Kill on Monday 4th September 2017
Elyssa leads on outreach at South London Cares, as well as co-ordinating our volunteers.