Anna Perry oozes positivity, about her team, her customers and the future of pharmacy
In the year 2000, Anna Perry had a decision to make. She was just finishing up her A Levels and had to choose between university or employment. She soon decided she wanted to get out and start making a career for herself.
“I was really looking for a job that had prospects, where I could move up the ladder. I didn’t want something that would be boring, I wanted something that would be varied, and pharmacy is definitely that,” she explains. “I sat at home and started making a list of all the different places in town that had potential and one of the first ones on the list was the local LloydsPharmacy down on the seafront.”
And after walking in and asking for a job, Anna started working there just two days later.
A step up
Anna worked for this branch of LloydsPharmacy in Ryde on the Isle of Wight for 11 years, before starting at Day Lewis Pharmacy in nearby Wootton in 2012. She trained as an accuracy checking technician, and in 2018 was approached by Day Lewis to become the branch manager. “They don’t usually have people managing the branch that aren’t the pharmacist, so I was slightly daunted by that, but I’m irritatingly organised so I thought I can probably take this on,” she laughs.
Since stepping up to this role, Anna has completed leadership courses to improve her managerial skills. “I have always found them really helpful. No one teaches you how to be a manager, and managing people is such a difficult thing to do, but the leadership courses have been amazing,” she explains.
Anna puts this training to good use within her team of seven, especially when she has a new member join the ranks. “I remember how terrified I was starting and how much information there is to take on. The job seems like you’re never going to get to grips with everything,” she says.
Making sure new team members have an understanding that working in pharmacy is not the sort of job you can walk into and know everything by the next day is key. “It’s all going to take time and patience and there are going to be things that crop up that you’re not going to know how to deal with. It’s just about having patience and guiding people through it,” Anna adds.
Stepping up to the plate is certainly something that Anna excels in. She jumped at the chance to complete vaccination training when Day Lewis offered it to all their pharmacy technicians in December. “I can basically do any of the vaccination services now. That will come in really handy and takes the pressure off it just being the pharmacist if we can share the workload,” says Anna. “I think the role of a technician has changed so much over the years. People are so highly trained and capable, it is so lovely now that the role is being really recognised.”
In the future, Anna hopes the pharmacy will become part of the wider Covid-19 vaccination programme and believes her team will be stronger than ever before.
“Pharmacy revolves so heavily around teamwork that if you’ve got the support of your team around you, then the possibilities are endless,” she says. “And the fact that Day Lewis is really keen to upskill by offering their pharmacy technicians the chance to have vaccine training is just brilliant because we can go on to offer far more services, support the branch, prop each other up and do more things between us.”
Jumping to action
The tight-knit team have supported each other throughout the pandemic, but Anna says the community has really supported the pharmacy too. So much so that the team put signs in the pharmacy windows thanking the customers for all their support. “It was a two-way street, definitely, and the support we had from our patients helping us get through it was wonderful,” she enthuses. “The community spirit here is something else. The people of Wootton are absolutely wonderful – we honestly have the best relationship with our patients.”
The whole team go above and beyond for their customers and patients and this is especially evident when they jumped to the aid of a customer who had fallen when getting into her car. “She fell and smashed her head on the side of the pavement and she actually ended up having a fractured skull. I phoned the ambulance service straight away, but they were so pushed that day that we spent three hours on the pavement with her just trying to keep her conscious and talking to her,” explains Anna.
Although the situation was a difficult one, the customer made a full recovery and Anna recounts other positives, including how the local doctors and even the owners of the nearby estate agents came to support, providing blankets and coats to keep the customer warm. This really exhibits the community feel in the town, with the pharmacy right at its heart.
The pharmacy’s strong ties to the community are further strengthened by the team’s involvement in fundraisers for local charities. “Last year we did a charity event in the middle of Covid, we thought people needed to be picked up a little bit,” says Anna. They decided to dress up head to toe in rainbows and raised over £400 for the local hospice. Day Lewis head office then doubled their donation. “We only have one hospice on the island and it’s a charity close to everyone’s hearts, they do such an important job,” she explains.
Anna hopes the team can get back to their old ways soon to continue to support the locals of Wootton. In the past they have had the pharmacy packed with people, and even got local policemen on exercise bikes (pictured), cycling as many miles as they could, helping to fundraise in the pharmacy.
Being able to support the community through charity engagement and empowering everyone to look after their health really means a lot to Anna. “There is nothing nicer than when a patient comes back to tell you that because of what you did or said this has happened. You see the improvement of your patient’s health and that means the world to me,” she says. Even throughout the pandemic and with the challenges that posed, Anna has led her team with a positive mindset and not stopped trying to make a difference.