Guest post by Karen Brown – Samford Chemmart Pharmacy Managing Partner
Men’s health is an extremely important issue – unfortunately many men don’t seem to agree.
Ensuring health is a front-of-mind subject for Australian men, particularly the 30 to 50 year old age bracket, is a difficult task due to common misconceptions about health checks such as it takes too long, it doesn’t matter and I don’t need to go I feel fine.
Engaging with and changing the perceptions of men, so they have both a better understanding of the importance of health and the simple steps they can take to make a difference in their lives, is a critical role that community pharmacists can play.
At Samford Chemmart Pharmacy we strive to engage with the local community through a range of health events to highlight our service offering that includes flu vaccinations, blood pressure checks and diabetes screenings. This year we were awarded the Pharmacy Guild Pharmacy of the Year - Community Engagement award and Queensland Chemmart Pharmacy of the Year in recognition of our commitment to community events.
Recently we hosted a men’s health information session that aimed to attract a large number of men from the community, to demonstrate the simple steps they can take to prioritise their health.
The event was highly successful, with more than 100 men aged between 30 and 80 attending. Below are some of the key insights from the night.
Encourage attendance with an appealing keynote speaker and other incentives.
With only a month to plan the event, we decided to engage a keynote speaker to encourage attendance. In rugby league-mad Brisbane, we looked no further than the King himself, Wally Lewis.
Wally’s sporting-legend status helped draw a crowd but his story and personal battle with epilepsy made him an extremely interesting and insightful speaker. It was important that we had a great speaker people wanted to meet, but also someone who could relate to the audience by sharing personal stories about their health and the steps they took to improve their life.
In addition, we offered an incentive of a luxury weekend away, donated by Audi Centre Brisbane, to encourage men to take a health check on the night.
Have a strong message
Wally’s main message for our audience was ‘Don’t be a Coward’ which we amplified as our hashtag (#dontbeacoward) for the evening across social media.
His story was inspiring and stressed the fact that we all want to live as long as we can with the people we love and to do so, sometimes we need to speak up and ask for help.
Having such a strong message delivered by someone who many see as an indestructible hero was very powerful and sent a clear message to the audience that their health should be a priority.
Demonstrate the ease and effectiveness of health checks
The core goal of the evening was to demonstrate how effective, simple and quick health checks can be.
Our first guest speaker was Samford Valley Doctor David O’Regan, a well-known and respected community member who discussed health concerns and recommended health checks for different age brackets, as well as conducting a Q&A session.
To demonstrate how simple and effective health checks are, we did more than 60 blood pressure checks on the night in the space of three hours.
Create the right environment for your audience
When discussing personal health issues with predominately strangers it’s important that your audience, regardless of age and gender, are comfortable in the environment.
One of the benefits of having a male-only event was that the attendees were very comfortable and relaxed in discussing health concerns of key importance to males, such as mental health and prostate cancer, and asking questions they may have otherwise kept to themselves.
The reaction we received from the event has been extremely positive. We started the evening with men who were encouraged to attend by their wives and we’ve since had locals visit our pharmacy on a recommendation from someone who attended our event asking us when we’ll be hosting our next one.
The impact has been instant and hopefully lasting - our men’s health sessions will definitely be a cornerstone of our yearly events calendar moving forward.