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The award-winning LPC providing ‘life-changing’ training to pharmacy teams

Community Pharmacy Tees Valley’s sexual health training programme bagged a coveted trophy at the C+D Awards 2022

With the English government forging ahead with the expansion of a national pharmacy contraception service, it’s arguably never been more important for pharmacy teams to boost their knowledge on sexual health.

Teams represented by Community Pharmacy Tees Valley find themselves in the enviable position of being supported by an LPC whose comprehensive sexual health training programme impressed the judges at the C+D Awards 2022 so much that it walked away with the Training and Development Award at last year’s glitzy ceremony.

Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Community Pharmacy Tees Valley – then known as Tees local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) – found that local teams needed a confidence boost in dealing with patients' queries on contraception, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or emergency hormonal contraception (EHC).

Read more: They’re back! C+D Awards officially return for 2023 with two new categories

Based in an area of high deprivation, they needed targeted training to support patients with learning difficulties, mental health issues and young people. The LPC launched its sexual health training programme in March 2019, moving it online during the first pandemic lockdowns a year later. Local teams – and their patients – have benefitted ever since, with Community Pharmacy Tees Valley describing the training’s impact as “literally…life-changing”.

Hundreds of pharmacy workers, from teams on the ground right the way up to area managers and pharmacy directors, have benefitted from the training. Teams are now proactively approaching individuals who may have experienced sexual abuse, asking difficult or challenging questions because they have the skills, knowledge and confidence to provide the right support.

Following the LPC's awards success, Sandie Keall, Community Pharmacy Tees Valley's chief officer, talks to C+D about what’s next for this award-winning sexual health training offering.


Tell us more about Tees LPC


[Community Pharmacy Tees Valley] is a committee of nine. We’re a very established committee with about three or four that have been with us for a very long time. We now have 146 contractors.

We provide a lot of our support work internally. One of those support networks is in training and development. So we work with a lot of our commissioners, one of which was [the] sexual health team and they commissioned us to provide hands-on pharmacy support.

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Our team of three delivers all of the training required. We work very closely with the commissioners on what their objectives are, then we tailor what we do to meet the needs of our audience. But one thing we’re very, very keen on is looking at what the existing skill set is and not telling [pharmacy teams] the same thing [repeatedly].

Within the Tees Valley area, we have huge, huge areas of deprivation and we have a high incidence of teenage pregnancy, STIs, and other associated issues. We have quite a challenging population, in that we have pockets of challenge where we have people who've been coerced into marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and other key challenges.

One of the things that was identified was that in our community pharmacy group, our staff base very much reflects our audience and our population. It allows people that opportunity to engage with somebody who's culturally aware, and culture is a big aspect of our training – looking at how that influences and impacts on the individual's health. It’s very key.


What does the sexual health training programme entail?


We’re a very hands-on team. We speak to our teams on a regular basis, either virtually or face-to-face. During the pandemic period, one thing we were very conscious of was not pulling teams out of practice, but also not causing cross-contamination of COVID-19 instances.

What we did as a team is we developed [a rolling] online offer. We did it on a lunch-and-learn basis. They could be having their cuppa, having their lunch, listening [and] learning all at the same time. We also ran evening sessions for people who really needed to sit and concentrate.

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We very much looked at what was available on e-Learning for healthcare and the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) to support any additional information and signposting that we might require. We also had guest speakers. For instance, some of our local teams deal with sexual exploitation, and we have a local team called Harbour who deal with people who have been a victim of sexual violence or sexual coercion, [and] they would introduce themselves. We’d provide that information as well. It was very much a complete piece.

We did a follow-up drop-in question-and-answer session to allow people to watch [the training] and then come back with questions. What we did then, once we were able to then go back out to teams, was to do team-based sessions on a one-to-small group basis. We didn't visit more than one pharmacy in a day to prevent cross-contamination.


Tell us about winning a C+D Award


It's always great to be recognised for the work you do, particularly because my team and I very much struggled during the pandemic because we really wanted to be out there and hands-on and helping. Everybody has to recognise their role has an impact and has a part to play within what we do. Our training offer is our baby, really. It's what we fundamentally do.

And I think from a recognition point of view, we won that award not just for us but for our teams. It's about our teams and what works for them.

Read more: Could you win a C+ D Award? Top tips to make your entry sparkle

Commissioners recognise that, actually, on a national basis and the national platform, we are recognised as a successful organisation to deliver training. They now will come to us and say, “Is there any possibility you can now do this? And it was because of winning the Training and Development [Award] at C+D that that all came about.


What’s next?


What’s next is looking at again what our teams are requesting. We do a training needs analysis regularly. One of the things that came back [recently] was menopause, so we are working with the Royal Society of Public Health and the Making Every Contact Count menopause offer.

So we’re doing that and also [things] around learning disabilities. We’re very much looking at the framework of how we can improve access for people with learning disabilities and autism to a welcoming setting in a similar way to how Dementia Friends and dementia-friendly pharmacies came about. So, we’re looking at what we need to do to change our approach to allow access for some of our most challenged members of the public.


The C+D Awards 2023 will take place at The Brewery in London on September 6. Could you or one of your colleagues be crowned as a C+D Award winner? Check out all the categories for the 2023 awards and enter today.



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