Column: Without a crutch to stand on

kylie-finalWe have an ever increasing range of home and health aids available to provide our customers improved comfort, dignity, independence, and mobility. However, these aids only provide assistance when used correctly.

Unfortunately, these aids are often purchased by family and carers. The lack of the user at the point of sale can result in discrepancy in the appropriateness and fit of the aid. I am sure we all see this every day: customers walking through our doors with poorly fitted slings pulling on their necks, rollators that have customers walking hunched over, and incorrectly adjusted walking sticks and crutches putting pressure on shoulders and elbows.

All of these things can lead to more pain and discomfort; sometimes more than the original injury and may even cause long term disfigurement in some cases. We need to increase the awareness in our communities of the importance of correctly fitted aids and make sure all of our staff are trained on how to do this correctly.

I’m really passionate about this area, so it’s just one of those things I cannot leave alone. In my mind, we may not have sold it to them but what an act of great customer service it is to fix the problem for them, explaining why it needed adjusting and checking that it is more comfortable. A positive outcome being the possible increase of a customer’s loyalty to your business.

Even my children can spot a poorly fitted sling a mile off and dread it because they know I’m going to talk to that stranger in the supermarket and fix it for them. I even got a marriage proposal while on holidays after I adjusted a gentlemen’s rollator for him because it was clearly too short for him. He was a very tall man and had to walk hunched over to reach the handles, he kept straightening up and rubbing his back, clearly indicating that he was in discomfort.

Sometimes, I think we can underestimate the positive impact we can have on our communities by being willing to take that extra step to help someone. This care and attention raises the profile of pharmacy assistants as highly trained health care professionals in our community, and it shows the community that pharmacies are so much more than just a retail outlet.

Kylie Richardson

Kylie is the 2015 Tasmanian Pharmacy Assistant of the Year. She is a senior pharmacy assistant at Wilkinson’s Healthsave Pharmacy in Burnie, Tasmania and has been in community pharmacy since the age of 16.