Recognition of Excellence Awards 2021
Having previously worked as airline cabin crew, Heidi Norton is now flying high as a passionate Healthy Living Champion who works hard to make a difference to the health and wellbeing of people young and old in her community through multidisciplinary working
Heidi Norton joined Bidford Pharmacy in Bidford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, as a medicines counter assistant 11 years ago, after having taken a career break to raise her children. She was initially nervous about going back into a work environment – especially as she had no previous experience of working in a pharmacy.
“I’d spent 15 years as airline cabin crew,” says Heidi. “There were lots of applicants for the pharmacy position, so I was delighted when I secured it. The success gave me a real boost and I was made to feel welcome from day one.”
A few years after Heidi started at the pharmacy, it was accredited as a Healthy Living Pharmacy, and Heidi became a healthy living champion. The pharmacy now runs a new campaign every month, with Heidi overseeing the window display and the in-store healthy living zones. But her involvement doesn’t end there. With every campaign, Heidi jumps in with both feet and makes sure the message is delivered throughout the community.
A recent success story was with a dental care campaign. Heidi spoke to local dentists and asked them to share props so that she could encourage customers to care for their teeth and visit the dentist. “We had colourful leaflets for children and engaged with them and their parents,” says Heidi.
“We asked parents whether they knew the right amount of fluoride and toothpaste their children should use, and we encouraged those with new babies to take them to the dentist as soon as their first teeth appear, to care for their teeth and get them used to visiting a dentist.”
The local dentists were really supportive and, as a result of the campaign, the pharmacy team managed to persuade at least two customers who had not visited the dentist for years to make appointments and have treatment. “When something like that happens and you’ve made a genuine improvement to someone’s health, it’s such a feeling of accomplishment,” says Heidi. “We have a dental practice just around the corner from the pharmacy and we found that the campaign has benefitted us both via signposting and referrals. This joined-up approach helps patients to feel cared for.”
Out and about
Heidi also gets involved with community events such as coffee mornings and library visits to help with the pharmacy’s outreach. For instance, she is a regular at the fabulously-named Jolly Teapot coffee morning at the local community centre. “I go and have a chat, armed with leaflets for whatever is relevant at the time,” explains Heidi. “I encourage people to check on one another, remind them that the pharmacy does prescription deliveries and generally listen and enquire about their wellbeing, delivering the strong message that the pharmacy is here for them.”
Heidi’s efforts don’t stop there as the pharmacy also takes a marquee stall at the annual ‘Bidford Bash’ summer fête. “This means we can talk to people for longer as we aren’t in the pharmacy doing our day jobs, and we meet lots of people who might not have come to the pharmacy before,” says Heidi. “We have competitions and crosswords for the children, and it works well to tell the local community that we are here, and here for them.”
Janice Perkins, consultant in patient safety and pharmacy practice and visiting Professor at Keele University and RoE judge, says: “Heidi is a great exemplar for Healthy Living Pharmacy and has clearly embraced the benefits that wellbeing and prevention can provide.” And fellow judge Salim Jetha, chairman at Avicenna, adds that Heidi’s efforts demonstrate “amazing interaction with the local community. A championship performance”.
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