Revealing insights and experiences from behind the front line, our latest Caring for Key Workers blog introduces us to Community Locum Pharmacist, Stella Kelly. Juggling work and family life, discover more about some of the challenges Stella's fast-paced role involves as well as her advice on how to relax after the end of a long day.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Stella Kelly and I am a Community Locum Pharmacist. I do some regular days in an independent pharmacy in the east end of Glasgow, and this is where I have been working prior and throughout the lockdown due to COVID-19.
Can you tell us more about what your role involves?
The pharmacy is a very busy community pharmacy with a varied customer base. The majority of our work involves dispensing medication, giving health care advice, prescribing treatments for minor conditions and delivering weekly medication boxes to the elderly. The local surgery is right beside us, so we have huge bundles of prescriptions sent down to us several times a day. Pharmacists are the only primary care service that you don’t need to make an appointment to see, so we are kept very busy as a result. Enquiries range from an anxious mum about a sick child, prescribing an antibiotic if appropriate for an infection, supplying emergency medication to someone who has forgotten to reorder their repeat prescription, plus dealing with all the usual medication enquiries.
What are you finding most challenging in your line of work at the moment?
Since the lockdown pharmacists and their teams have been overwhelmed with prescriptions, initially there was a similar reaction to the panic buying seen in supermarkets and trying to remain professional and calm while explaining to patients that they were not allowed to stockpile paracetamol or order double prescriptions.
We had to take urgent action to keep our staff safe and also to protect our most vulnerable patients. We have a 'one in, one out' policy in the pharmacy now, plus we are allowed to keep our door locked at times throughout the day in order to be able to catch up with the huge workload we are experiencing. Our local surgery has closed its doors so more patients are coming to our pharmacy for advice and for treatment for minor conditions. A big worry for us is making sure that we are protected from potentially catching the virus from patients who present in the pharmacy with symptoms, and worrying about taking the virus home too.
How are you feeling during this difficult time?
It has been very stressful trying to physically get through the amount of work and deal with anxious patients. The majority of our patients have been very understanding and co-operate but unfortunately, there are still the few who think they are the only ones who exist and can be very demanding!
What are you doing to remain positive in the current climate?
We have a great wee team in our pharmacy and humour gets us through every day - the Glasgow patter certainly helps! When we started to wear face masks our front counter lady, Dorothy, was worried about not looking her best so I helped to bring a bit of bling to her mask! It keeps the customers laughing and helps us all to let off a bit of steam by having a giggle in this difficult time.
How do you prefer to unwind after the end of a long day?
Trying to juggle working and homeschooling has been a challenge! I have 3 children 13, 10, 8 and on my days off I’m trying to catch up with shopping for essentials and help them so I don’t get much time to just relax myself... My husband likes to leave the school work to me!
What are your favourite ARRAN Sense of Scotland products, and why?
I already use the ARRAN Sense of Scotland products, I love the Glen Iorsa pillow spray which I use at bedtime and I love the shower gel and hand lotion, they're both relaxing and refreshing! I always use the hand lotion just as I go to bed so the lavender helps me to relax and also helps to soothe my hands, especially if I’ve been popping tablets all day to make up trays for patients.
Another big favourite of mine is the Glenashdale range. It always reminds me of being on Arran, the body spray and shower gel are so uplifting, and I love using these after exercising - they give me a great positive feel-good buzz! That range is probably my favourite, but I love them all in different ways and for different reasons!
We always go to Arran on holiday at least twice a year and I always go to the shop when I am there, I can never have too much! We have a cottage booked again for this summer in July but we just don’t know if we will be able to go due to the lockdown and possible future restrictions, we really miss being on Arran, but I’m glad I have a good stock of products to remind me of being there!