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Working hard on the work-life balance

By Ultan Molloy - 01st Oct 2023

Shorter working weeks seem to lend themselves to better work-life integration, and people are presenting as more relaxed and refreshed when they are with us, writes Ultan Molloy

I’m writing this as a storm of wind and rain rages outside. “It would be a grand little country is you could put a roof on it”, somebody said to me recently. Well, now our summer feels well and truly over. Fortunately we have a family holiday booked for next week, which should shorten the winter a little.
Or at least the autumn! It has become increasingly clear that there are significant challenges associated with balancing work, parenting (activities, illness, school runs) and the other roles we have as adults, not to mind having some time for an amount of self-care and resourcing.

Things came to a head somewhat some time back, resulting in us selling one of our pharmacies so that I could be
a better father, husband, and employer in our main business. While it has significantly impacted our income, we have no regrets. I really didn’t realise how under-resourced and burnt out I was until I had an opportunity to have some time to recharge, and focus on doing a better job on what is most important to me – that being my family. I may be cursing them all in the next article, mind you, if our week-long trip to a mobile home ends up in claustrophobia, and something akin to Father Ted’s caravan! I’ll let you know how we get on.

Following the hollier, I’ve a practice review to look forward to in mid-October. Something I have not done before and I have an amount of anxiety around. Much like some of our team, and their phobia of appraisals, I am not a fan of being assessed at this point in my life, having rather comfortably settled into the role of assessor in most of my life roles. The Irish Institute of Pharmacy (IIOP) website was helpful and having gone through it and completed the online MCQ assessment, I feel a lot more comfortable. Why somebody needs to use Daktarin Oral Gel for a week after symptoms have cleared following oral thrush is beyond me, although I learnt a lot, and got a degree of comfort from the trial run-through. I’d like another dozen of them to mock my way through, but there didn’t seem to be more on offer.

I must look back over the site, in fairness. I offered, on a call earlier, that there was a 7% survival rate for those suffering from cardiac arrest, off the top of my head, which I researched since, and went back to those on the call with. There’s a c. 7% survival with CPR / chest compressions, which is, thankfully, increased up past the mid-30%s on using a defibrillator.

The success of the intervention rose significantly, much to my delight, if it was applied within the inital minutes of the cardiac arrest.

On pharmacy matters, I have printed but not read yet, the IPU submission to the Department of Health regarding pharmacy fees, extended services etc as part of progressing towards a new fit-for-purpose community pharmacy contract. I do know we have extensive public opinion support for providing further services to the public, so it will be interesting to see how much of an appetite there will be for resourcing us when it comes to the crunch. Will it be lip service and politicking, or will there be somebody there on the other side of the table who will see the potential for patients and our communities, and share in a constructive vision for the sector.

I have written extensively in the past about my frustrations around our present contract, and indeed sometimes our present role, so I won’t bore you with more of the same. I’m just leaving it ‘in the lap of the Gods’ as a friend of mine used to say. Credit to the Butterfield House team mind you, and our acting Secretary General, Derek, for their work on this. It’s not easy to maintain momentum, and to remain positive and constructive when you’re in a ‘negotiating’ situation with one hand tied behind your back. Let’s hope whatever it is that what is imposed on us is palatable at worst, although I’m optimistic that we may be pleasantly surprised.

I had a text earlier from a pharmacist friend, I presume about the last piece I wrote, which read ‘Workflow planning. What the f*@k is that!?’ followed by some laughing faces. I’m sure my frustration was palpable given my own experience in the last piece. It’s good to be back on track and not needing the services of a local pharmacy, other than my own, since I wrote that. There is only a certain amount of work that can be anticipated of course.

We have been relatively quiet front of house over the last month, leaving us twiddling our thumbs from time to time. One of our team is getting frustrated that “there’s not enough to do!”, but I know it’s only ever a temporary situation, and just a matter of time before we have days where we are squeezed to capacity again. We have a really good team and, thankfully, will be able to support further capacity as we grow, with the bottleneck that we need to plan for, being pharmacist time, coming into vaccination season again. Shorter work weeks for pharmacists seem to lend themselves to better work-life integration, and people are presenting as more relaxed and refreshed when they are with us. Sick pay and incoming pensions legislation will further support employees into the future, and while it’s coming out of our pockets as employers, we’ll just have to plan for it, as with everybody being in the same boat as such, the tide will have to rise.

Ultan Molloy is a business and professional performance coach, pharmacist, facilitator, and development specialist. He works with other pharmacists, business owners, and third parties to develop business strategies. Ultan can be contacted on 086 169 3343.

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