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A blast from RoE past

With the Recognition of Excellence Awards 2023 just around the corner, TM catches up with last year’s Service Excellence Award winner Lisa O’Neill

When it came to selecting the winner of the 2022 Service Excellence Award (now renamed the Clinical Services Award), Lisa O’Neill was the obvious choice.

In fact, Lisa’s nominator, pharmacist Vicky Toner, felt her work within the smoking cessation service was an inspiration. “She has a true passion for driving this service and she genuinely wants to help improve patient’s quality of life by stopping smoking,” she explained. “Her enthusiasm is infectious, and the rest of the staff are inspired to replicate her performance.”

Obviously, the judges agreed! Speaking at the time, RoE judge and senior manager pharmacy learning and development at Boots UK, Richard Dunne, said: “Lisa shows how 35 years in community pharmacy is a commitment to her community and her patients.” Fellow judge and Well superintendent pharmacist, Ifti Khan, added that Lisa’s work was “evidence of how local health promotion can be used to engage the public in services such as smoking cessation”.

Starting out

Lisa started working in pharmacy at the age of 15 as a Saturday girl. “I can still remember delivering prescriptions on my bike around town,” she says. “I was given a lot of responsibility from a very young age, and I really thrived off that I think.”

Flash forward 36 years, and Lisa has worked her way up to be an accuracy checking technician (ACT), something she has been doing for 11 years.

The pharmacy offers multiple services, many of which Lisa is trained in, ranging from emergency hormone contraception to flu vaccinations. But it is smoking cessation where she truly thrives. “I would say I’m quite good at initiating a conversation with someone about different health problems,” says Lisa. “I like to speak with patients and help them make an informed choice about their healthcare.”

In order to raise awareness of their smoking cessation services, Lisa and her team came up with innovative ways to advertise the program in store and beyond. “We have our own resource materials, and we also order some online,” explains Lisa. “We’ve started working alongside other organisations, reaching out to employers if they want to signpost their employees to our services. At one point we went out with someone dressed as a cigarette, and we gave out our own leaflets that we’d made beforehand.”

Their efforts paid off! In 2022, Boots, Motherwell had the highest successful quit rates in Lanarkshire, sitting at 32 per cent whilst the average in the area is 18 per cent. 

“With everyone’s input, motivation and continued support, we deliver a compassionate service to our patients”

A year on

Since the awards, Lisa’s passion for ensuring that the pharmacy’s smoking cessation service maintains its reputation has only grown, alongside her desire to help other members of the team. “I’ve been very proactive ensuring that staff have had opportunities to gain further knowledge by undertaking online smoking cessation service training sessions facilitated by NHS ‘Quit Your Way’ staff,” she says.

Lisa and her team have also come up with new innovative ways to promote the service and raise more awareness amongst the community. “In early December, I set up two smoking cessation health promotion tables in our pharmacy with resources obtained from the NHS health improvement library,” she explains. “My aim was to bring more awareness to our smoking cessation service prior to the new year, so patients were prepared in advance.

“The promotion tables were also on display during the national No Smoking Day on 8 March until mid-April. Since January, we have registered 26 new patients and whilst existing patients have completed their 12-week programme, we continue to register new patients who often will self-refer.”

Back on top

Once again, her efforts have paid off as the store regained its top spot as the best performing pharmacy in Lanarkshire. But Lisa isn’t stopping there! “Looking to the future”, she says, “I’m planning on visiting local shops within our town centre to promote the smoking cessation service to their staff in an attempt to raise more awareness about the way we can help people”.

Never one to take all of the credit, Lisa emphasises that her work would not have been possible without the help of her team. “I would like to mention Vicky Toner, Martin Lees and all my pharmacy colleagues,” she says. “Also, Heather Donaldson who is the community pharmacy champion and all the staff who work within the tobacco control team, pharmacy improvement project at NHS Lanarkshire.

“We all work as a team and with everyone’s input, motivation and continued support, we deliver a compassionate service to our patients to achieve a successful outcome during their smoking cessation journey.”

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