Manchester chemist Maneet Kapoor is leading a call for more awareness of loneliness and its effects – as he estimates that he sees at least ten people a day through his work who are isolated.
Chorlton-based Maneet, who runs Kapoor Pharmacy and Manley Pharmacy, is now keen to support the city’s health commissioners (Manchester health and Care Commissioning *) with explore ideas that can help to ease the problem, while making the use of pharmacy skills and expertise.
One of his ideas includes expanding a section of the front of the Wilbraham Road shop to include a sign-posting or information point where customers will be able to find out about groups and activities and friendship events in the area, while they are waiting for their prescriptions or advice.
“So many people who come in to our shop frame their day around picking up their medications – and for some we will be the only people they interact with that day,” he says. “That’s why it’s so important to talk to our customers – and while we do that we can also do a quick review of their medication.
“We already have a seat in the shop – which is part of an age-friendly drive to help older people – but we want to be able to go further and actually have more seating and encourage people to look at the social or group events in the area.”
The pharmacy has also passed this holistic approach to their drivers, who are asked to make more time at this time of year to talk to customers and check they have everything they need as the cold weather sets in. Drivers are also giving out calendars to customers as a Christmas token.
“Even the calendars are a way of making that further connection,” says Maneet. “You’d be surprised at how many people ring to thank us for them – and again that’s a chance to check in on the customer, and ask them how they are.”
New ways of tackling loneliness and bringing more care into communities are two major themes within the city’s plans for health and social care in the next five years. This plan –A Healthier Manchester – also outlines how boosting support in communities can not only improve health and wellbeing, but also address pressures around hospital care.
Councillor Bev Craig, Executive Member for Adult health and Social Care at Manchester City Council and board member of Manchester Health and Care Commissioning, said: “We welcome this type of innovation and proactive stance. Often it’s the small touches – those extra few minutes talking to someone – that can be a lifeline to helping with deeper-seated issues that can affect both mental and physical health.”
As part of its ongoing approach to tackling loneliness, MHCC has also worked with the Girl Guides, Brownies and Rainbows to devise a special Manchester badge for youngsters to get involved with health-based projects that could also tackle loneliness. The badge launched in September and youngsters who gain the award will also receive references from Manchester Council Leader Sir Richard Leese and Ian Williamson, who is Chief Accountable Officer for Manchester Health and Care Commissioning.
Over Christmas (including Christmas day) Maneet is on call to cover Manchester for pharmacy help with palliative care.