Francesca Wright worked at the Body Shop for 15 years before making the move to community pharmacy to be closer to home. “My son was young and going into nursery, so it was a case of being able to juggle work and looking after him,” she explains. But after swapping selling soaps for medicines, she has worked at LloydsPharmacy in Walsall ever since. “It feels like it has gone in a flash, I really feel like it has only been a few years, but it has actually been about eight years now,” she says.
Going from counter assistant to dispensing assistant just a year after starting, Francesca is now in the process of completing her pharmacy technician course. Day-to-day, she is busy with many aspects of the pharmacy, especially the dossette boxes, and has even earned herself a nickname. “I am the ‘tray lady’, as they refer to me,” she laughs. “I do all the ordering and making up and I’m in contact with patients who have dosette boxes. Within the pharmacy I’d say that is my main responsibility.”
Having this area to focus on is something that Francesca really enjoys. “It’s nice to be responsible for something and to be a bit more hands on,” she says. “It’s also nice to feel that you are part of the pharmacy and that you are needed as well.”
And Francesca doesn’t just wait for patients who need her services to come to her. “Because I live locally, when the lockdown happened, I did go and put a note through all of my elderly neighbours’ doors and just gave them my number,” she explains. Now these neighbours drop her a text message or call her when they need their prescription, or even just some paracetamol, dropping off. No ask is too small, and Francesca is happy to help, finding these face-to-face exchanges quite rewarding. “I love interacting with them and you get to know them so well. When they are going through tough times you can just go and have a little chat with them and you help make them feel a bit better,” she adds.
It’s nice to feel that you are part of the pharmacy and that you are needed
And she doesn’t stop there. Francesca also gets involved in all the services that the pharmacy offers, including blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and vitality checks, although many of these had to be put on hold for a while due to the pandemic. “You don’t see as many bookings at the minute because of Covid. People aren’t having anything done unless they feel it’s completely necessary,” Francesca explains.
Even so, she highlights the importance of these services by recalling a vital intervention she made recently. “I had a lady who came in and she’d just had a baby, it wasn’t very old, just a couple of months. She’d not been feeling very well and wanted her blood pressure checking. I took her in to check it and it was very high,” explains Francesca.
Whilst chatting, the customer revealed that during her pregnancy the doctor had expressed concerns about her blood pressure, but she was afraid of taking medication whilst pregnant and had been trying to make changes through lifestyle measures such as losing weight and exercising. “She had done everything she could have done,” says Francesca, and she recommended that the patient visit a GP. “I said it’s not something to worry about having medication, if you need it to control [your blood pressure] then it’s better to do that than leaving it.” The patient returned the next morning with a prescription and was so grateful that Francesca had taken the time to chat and reassure her.
I love interacting with them and you get to know them so well
Francesca says she wouldn’t have been able to support her patients like she does without the support of her seven colleagues. “We work really well together as a team and everybody has got their own strengths,” she says. “If you’re not sure on something you can always grab someone and ask them to go through it with you. Everybody is really patient with each other and really supportive.”
This collaborative effort has really shone with how the team have helped each other navigate their new prescriptions dispensing system. The pharmacy recently switched from the dispensing system CoMPaSS to the LS Central for pharmacy management software. “It is completely new, so we are getting our heads round that because it is very different to what we were working with,” explains Francesca. “Finding things on there is very different. The other day I was looking everywhere for the prescription tracker, so I just grabbed one of the other girls and she showed me where it was.” Being supportive of one another in this way means that the pharmacy can continue to run smoothly, even with technical headaches. Francesca says it’s just a case of pulling together and making sure the team continue to provide a high level of service to their patients.