Recognition of Excellence 2020
Catherine Hinsley was named Infant Care Champion for her ambitious plans for outreach in local schools and impressive track record in providing advice, reassurance and an empathetic listening ear to parents
Joining LloydsPharmacy was the best move Catherine Hinsley – known as Kate – ever made. “And that’s an understatement. I love my job,” she says.
Despite having to work late nights in the 100-hour pharmacy inside Sainsbury’s, which is open until 11pm, dispensing assistant Kate relishes every challenge. “During the day, we see our regulars,” she says, “but the late night shift visits are not routine ones, and there is much more distress and anxiety on the part of the customers.”
The evenings regularly bring worried parents of unwell children to the pharmacy. “Being a parent myself, I know exactly how they are feeling. It is such a stressful situation. I am mum to three beautiful children, but I am also a mum that has not always found motherhood easy,” she confesses. “You can feel judged, unsure and uneducated when it comes to your children’s health and wellbeing.”
With this in mind, Kate said that often her job is to listen to what a parent needs and if it’s just reassurance that they’re doing the right thing, that’s what she gives. “This can be the sleep deprived mum who is really, really at her wits end and feels she has no one to turn to,” she says. “While we can’t solve the problem, we can, and have, pointed mums in the right direction with advice for the baby and also for themselves. I find being able to say ‘I fully understand; I’ve been there, I promise you will get through this’ really helps.”
As the only people a customer might talk to on any given day, Kate provides support that can be a real lifeline. “We can be the people that say to the new mum ‘wow – fantastic, you got dressed; you got out of the house!’. We can be the people who say to the stressed dad ‘it’s okay, we haven’t got the medication you need in stock, but let’s ring around and find you some’,” she explains.
Kate recalls one mum she spoke to in the pharmacy, who then joined the ‘play and stay’ baby group Kate helps to run one morning a week. “It has been lovely to see her develop and grow as a mum,” she says. “With help from her GP and other mums, she has really started to come out of the dark place that so many mums are in.”
Believing that people tend to underestimate the power that pharmacy teams have to help their communities, Kate is passionate about expanding her pharmacy’s reach. As school nurses are now largely a thing of the past, Kate says her pharmacy has seen a huge uplift in sales of threadworm products, which has sparked an idea.
“Teachers don’t have time to give hygiene lessons and by law are not allowed to accompany children into school toilets, so the message on the importance of washing hands and scrubbing nails isn’t as strong as it could be among little children,” she says. “It would be great if we could go into infant school departments and talk about the basics of handwashing. Everyone could get a certificate for learning how to wash their hands and scrub their nails properly. I think this would be a win-win among early years children.”
Judge and CEO of Kensington, Chelsea & Westminster LPC Rekha Shah praises this proactive approach. “Kate has a great attitude and ideas. I can just see how her support via advice and reassurance to parents is a true godsend,” she says.
Upon receiving her award Kate said...
"To say I am completely overwhelmed and shocked is an understatement. I am just one of an amazing team within my branch and just one of thousands of amazing pharmacy professionals across the UK, of whom all put their hearts and souls into what at times can be a challenging – even more so this year – but stimulating and rewarding profession. I am completely humbled that you would pick me. All I can say is thank you".