Adversity resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic has strengthened the bond between pharmacists and their customers, writes Ultan Molloy
Another month has flown by. I’ve been listening to some interesting podcast content recently, notably Cautionary Tales, that has highlighted some of our favourable and less favourable behaviours on foot of the present pandemic. Some insights include the strengthening of our community and interpersonal bonds on foot of adversity, noting the counter-intuitive effect of bombing during the blitz on morale in the British and German populations. We have received more words and messages of appreciation over the last couple of months than ever before, perhaps on foot of this effect. Other than some tense moments with some customers and patients who were finding their resilience and stress levels challenged under the circumstances, overall, I feel that it has strengthened the bond and relationship with our customers.
We will see how our presence as part of the primary healthcare network, and the social fabric of our country, is valued in terms of resourcing and supporting the sector, financially and otherwise, when talks on a new pharmacy contract conclude next year. That is, of course, if they even start this coming year, given the shaky start we have seen with the present Government. Perhaps what we have now will be better anyway, given our pre-Christmas FEMPI fright, so we needn’t be looking forward to this in any case.
Another insight was with regards to lockdown compliance. Interestingly, highlighting poor behaviour in the news, and other media, was and is more likely to precipitate more of it, rather than drive further compliance. Of course, that’s not in the media’s interest, and a little more bland, but our herd mentality is alive and well. Hearing of others breaking the rules does not shame us into further complying with them; rather, it allows us to be more at peace with us breaking them. Sure, other people are at it anyway, aren’t they? Independent thinking isn’t often rewarded, as I can attest to.
In retrospect, I wasn’t particularly proud of the content in my last article. On reflection, it felt a little ‘troll-like’. Highlighting perceived incompetence, or validated group behaviour, will serve to further alienate one, rather than highlight ‘the error of their ways’ for others, irrespective of how wholesome the intention may be. There isn’t a lot of kindness in it either, but maybe that’s okay. Some of the content and comments on social and other media are abrasive at a healthier end of the spectrum of abuse. Looking at some of the comments on Twitter more recently, I can’t fathom why anyone would want to work as a politician. I know, I know… just ignore it, it’s not personal, it’s their issue, etc, but I just don’t know if I would want that in my life under any circumstances. Ignoring ruthlessly personal abusive comments, albeit from strangers, must require a serious level of self-assurance and a thick skin. Clearly, those who possess these qualities are unlikely to be those same participants who are seeking personal validity and self-esteem from these social media channels.
How many ‘likes’ did you get to your last post on Facebook or Instagram? Does it bother you at all that others are getting more than you and that they have so many more followers? Why, or why not, is a question to ponder. I reckon, based on what I know of my customer base and the medicines they take, that there is a significantly higher proportion of those who are active on social media taking antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication. In fact, I’d bet my business on it. What does that say about its value, and engaging with social media as a healthy habit? We use it for work and engaging our customers/advertising, although I can so easily end up down a rabbit hole of scrolling and ‘liking’ for way too much time if I go at it when I’m tired and without a set start and finish to using it. It’s made to engage us. It’s made to be addictive and compulsive, and yes, I can easily succumb to this time and head-space vampire when I could do something a lot healthier for myself. Sleep, for a start, given our present family and work commitments and what I know to be my priorities.
Nature and nurture
On the subject of human behaviour, it warms my heart (not an easy endeavour mind you, given how I’m made!) to see our 11-month-old June shaking her head and dancing any time some music comes on. Without a doubt, it is an intuitive response from her. Since she could move, she’s been the same. Our other two girls have their own very distinctive personalities also, and I’m quite sure while we had a hand in shaping them, consciously and unconsciously, the blueprint was theirs on arrival. We’ll do our best no doubt to set them up for success, as it’s playing out accordingly for them and for us, and hopefully manage to dance a little more along the way!