Working together to get medicines delivered to vulnerable residents
We at Public Health Dorset along with Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP), BCP Council, Dorset Council, EDAS, EDP Drugs & Alcohol Services, the Local Pharmaceutical Committee have been getting prescribed medicines safely to residents who are potentially more likely to be exposed to coronavirus due to underlying health conditions.
Will Haydock, Public Health Dorset’s Senior Health Programme Advisor, said: “The people who use our services are often some of the most vulnerable in society in relation to COVID-19. They’re potentially more likely to be exposed to the virus, and then more likely to suffer a severe illness as a result, because of underlying health conditions such as COPD or diabetes.
“It’s therefore a priority for us to reduce their chances of contracting the virus and passing it on to other people. Normally our service users have to visit the pharmacy at least once a week – sometimes every day – to pick up their medication, and for the most at risk we immediately wanted to reduce the number of these visits if at all possible.”
We at Public Health Dorset support people with issues with alcohol or other drugs and have been trying to alter prescriptions and get people their medication directly so that they can practise social distancing and not have to go to the pharmacy so often, when these services are already under huge pressure.
Dorset Council’s Highways team and BCP Council's Passenger Transport team and vehicles have been redeployed to support this effort, meaning that nurses and other treatment staff can concentrate on directly supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
Highways vehicles have been redeployed to deliver medicines and pharmaceuticals to people in receipt of drug treatment. These vehicles have council branding on them and are a trusted and much needed way to deliver medicines to people in our communities that are in real need.
Mike Westwood, Dorset Council Community Highways Manager, said: “We realised early on that is was critical we helped our public health services, in whatever way possible, to protect vulnerable residents. By making a few changes to the way we work, we were able to free-up a number of workers and vehicles, and there was no shortage of staff willing to take up this new role.
“With support from our public health colleagues in Dorset, the team has been able to work in a safe an effective manner, and they have found it very rewarding.
“Carrying out this service for the NHS on behalf of Dorset Council is a great honour and we are very proud as a team to have been able to help.”
Cllr Andy Hadley, BCP Council Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure: “Our passenger transport team is normally busy ensuring vulnerable people get from A to B. With essential journeys significantly reduced, I am pleased we have been able to divert our transport team to help deliver prescriptions, to some of our residents who need them the most, as part of our Together We Can community response initiative.”
Michelle Austin a nurse from AWP, said: “These drivers are a Godsend. They are doing an amazing job. We seriously couldn’t do this without them.”
Jon Shorrock, AWP Service Manager said: “I can’t mention a person who hasn’t shown an absolute willingness to embrace the initiative. Everyone really connected with the reasons why people needed Opioid Substitution Therapy, with great compassion for supporting the service users that we serve. That’s what has made it so easy to set up.
“Under normal circumstances we’d never be doing this, but the fact that everyone involved has shifted into a space where they understand the critical nature of the situation we’re in and are able to take positive risks has been one of the most refreshing exercises I have undertaken in a very long time. The speed with which it has happened, the willingness of everyone involved and the outcomes all collectively have been quite an inspiring experience.”
Will Haydock added: “With this work we had to bring together prescribers and pharmacists from the NHS, staff from local charities that work in this field, and local council staff – possibly out of their comfort zone.
“I’m really impressed by everyone’s willingness to work together with a genuinely open mind, and then commit their time and energy to help our service users and the wider community stay safe and reduce the risk of transmitting and contracting COVID-19.”