Nicola Hawkins’ first experience of pharmacy was as a temporary member of staff 10 years ago. She wasn’t deterred by the fast pace, taking a permanent job afterwards at a pharmacy in East Yorkshire and working her way up to become a dispensing assistant. She now works at Boots on Newland Avenue in Hull, and says: “I love it here. It is really a strong part of the community.”
Pharmacist Suk Lau put Nicola forward for the TENA-sponsored Customer Care Award, saying: “There are too many good things to talk about… Nicola takes care of our customers like her own family,” and the judging panel agreed, bestowing upon her a Highly Commended award.
Some of Suk’s examples included Nicola’s determination to find solutions to recent drug shortages so her patients didn’t go without, including “scavenging” from other pharmacies, talking to prescribers about alternatives and getting prescriptions altered; finding a locum pharmacist for a nearby pharmacy so patients didn’t have to wait, and making deliveries during this year’s snowstorms. Nicola also leads on the store’s healthy living pharmacy campaigns each month, and has sourced materials from local quit advisors to raise awareness about the dangers of cigarette smoking.
Nicola is constantly working on her communication skills, as the pharmacy has lots of customers with limited or no English. “We do the best we can with online translators, but that is quite limited,” she explains. “I have made it my job to get to know these patients and I now like to deal with them myself. I learn what it is they are usually coming in for so that I can help them to bridge the communication difficulties. Many customers ask for me specifically and it is very rewarding to know that they trust me.”