Antrim Community Development Work Praised By Health Minister

Health Minister Robin Swann has praised the community development work being carried out in Antrim by the Oasis Caring in Action Centre.

The group has established a partnership project with the local Boots community pharmacy. This project is one of 23 similar projects across Northern Ireland recently funded through the Building Community-Pharmacy Partnership programme which is managed by the Community Development and Health Network (CDHN) and commissioned by the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB).

Minister Swann said: "As demands on our health service continue to grow new innovative approaches such as those delivered by Oasis can help improve the health and wellbeing of our communities. It is clear that initiatives such as these are helping to address locally defined needs and health inequalities seen too often in our communities."

The programmes delivered by Oasis take a holistic approach and empower people to improve their mental and physical health by taking control of their conditions while advocating caution and self-care regarding the continued use and need for medication. Oasis provides alternatives to the increasing prescription of medication and supports the Department's transformation agenda around the appropriate, safe and efficient use of medicines. Oasis has developed a strong relationship with their local pharmacist from Boots Pharmacy beside them in High Street and the CDHN project team. It is a great example of how the Building the Community Pharmacy Partnership Programme (BCPP) contributes to tackling inequality and improving community health and wellbeing locally.
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The Minister continued: "It has never been more important that we continue to work collaboratively and build on the success of programmes such as this to deliver innovative and effective solutions to prescription medication. Oasis Caring in Action have a long history of supporting local women on a range of issues affecting their health and wellbeing and have been proactively supporting them during the pandemic to address the health inequalities and financial worries they are facing while providing hope and a listening ear."

During his tour of the centre, the Minister met with women whose mental health has been impacted by the pandemic. He said: "It is clear this project is having a positive impact on the women involved. The project has re-engaged the group with their community pharmacists and their wider community. This confidence building cannot be underestimated and I want commend all those involved in delivering this collaborative programme of work."

Joanne Vance, Director of Community Development and Health Network, said: "Since 2001 we have funded 949 partnerships across Northern Ireland, investing over £6.3 million in community health and wellbeing projects through the BCPP programme. This project led by Oasis is one excellent example of how community and pharmacy partners use community development approaches to take action on the social determinants of health. The partners work with local people to build local evidence on the best ways to tackle health inequalities and improve people's participation in health and social services."

Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy and Medicines Management, Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) said: "I have been involved with the BCPP programme for over 20 years. Through that time we have supported hundreds of community groups and pharmacies to work together on a specific, local health need. The projects have not only benefited the participants and their communities – they have developed pharmacies and their teams as a focal point for health and well-being improvement within their local communities and at the same time sought to reduce health inequalities."

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