Pharmacists have insight into how people manage their medicines- especially those with chronic conditions, so the perspective of pharmacists should be taken into account when creating self care policies. European pharmacists have the competence to lead the self-care agenda.
Growing empowerment, resulting from improved education levels and greater access to information, combined with increased individual interest in personal health, is resulting in growing demand for self-care. In addition public awareness has increased of the impact of certain lifestyle factors- such as avoidance of smoking and keeping to well-balanced diet- on maintaining health and preventing illness. In this context self-care, can be seen as the most common form of healthcare, and involves such matters as dental hygiene, breast self-examination, regular aerobic exercise, home-pregnancy testing, nutritional supplementation, and self-medication with non-prescription medicines.
Community pharmacists are at the heart of healthcare, providing a wide range of professional services to citizens of EU Member States. The range of essential service provided includes participation in health promotion campaigns, one-to-one advice on how to maintain good health and avoid illness, help for those who wish to quit smoking, and advice on when self-care including self-medication is appropriate, Community Pharmacists are also of course responsible for the dispensing of prescriptions written by other health professionals with, when necessary and appropriate, advice on the importance of adherence to medicinal therapy.
Community pharmacists play a significant role in supporting patients in self-care, which broadly speaking encompasses:
- Hygiene advice (general and personal),
- Nutrition advice and counselling (type and quality of food eaten, etc),
- Lifestyle advice and counselling (sporting activities, leisure, etc.),
- Self-medication support.