The business started in 1997 when I bought an existing pharmacy on Blarney Street. In 2001, I relocated it to 77 Shandon Street.
The Mayfield shop opened in 2000, and the shop in Togher opened in 2005. We had a flurry of activity in the first few years. We were very busy.
I would have worked in these areas so I had have had experience in them. We also wanted to get a spread of shops around the city.
Has much changed since you opened?
Regulatory demands are much greater and because of that, there is a need for more pharmacists to deal with more paperwork. So, as a consequence of that, time that could be spent dealing with patients is spent on paperwork.
I had been most interested in science subjects in school, but I also wanted to do something that would allow me to be self-employed. I grew up with my parents running a bar and restaurant, and I enjoyed the service industry and the challenge of being self-employed, so pharmacy made sense.
We offer home delivery, flu vaccinations, blood pressure monitoring, and we are open until midnight on Shandon Street. The most important thing we offer is access to a qualified member of staff at all times.
Yes, it has become tougher in recent years, but we have built up a loyal customer base.
What differentiates us is our staff. Most of our staff have been with us for a very long time. They provide a trusted and recognisable face that is helpful for patients, particularly when dealing with medication.
For example, in Shandon Street, Marguerite and Donal have been there for almost 18 years. In Mayfield, Seamus has been there for 16 years, and, in Togher, Carmel has been there since it opened in 2005. Most importantly, our pharmacists mostly live and work in the communities around the shops. There is a presence in the community, not just the shop.
Tell us about your staff.
The staff are friendly, courteous, but, above all, caring. As most of our staff have been with us for many years, we endeavour to provide a friendly and professional working environment for them. I get the best satisfaction from hearing compliments about our staff and I believe they are always willing to go the extra mile for our customers.
The customers are mostly local to the three shops. We have a good customer base, ranging from people on long-term medications to casual, walk-in trade. Customers have been loyal to us over the years. We have always relied on recommendations from other satisfied customers.
The increased cost of new medication means that the HSE has had to make difficult decisions as to what products they will pay for. Some patients bear the brunt of these decisions to restrict supplies of certain drugs, like the Versatis patches recently.
There is increased availability to an expert in medicine, especially as people tend to work less traditional hours than nine to five. Also, with the increased pressure on GPs and emergency departments, pharmacies have become the first port of call for many people.
With an ageing population and a health service under strain, the number of services available directly from pharmacies is likely to increase in the coming years.