The Wells Family Challenge: A Pharmacist First Approach

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Collated and evaluated by 2020health

This report analyses and presents a qualitative evaluation of the benefits of the Wells Family Challenge; an assessment of the impact of in-store pharmacists using practical tools and techniques on the health and lifestyle of families. The assessment was carried out from November 2011 to November 2012, in ten Sainsbury’s stores with in-store pharmacies across the UK.


The key output from the Wells Family Challenge was a highly informative picture of health literacy across the families involved and the mentoring role the pharmacist can play in preventing illness and encouraging healthier lifestyle choices. Health literacy refers to the empowerment of individuals and communities to read, understand and use healthcare information to access services and to better manage any illnesses they experience (North West Employers 2011: 2).

The findings from the Wells Family Challenge suggest that many people do not understand the links between the food they are eating, exercise and illness. The pharmacists involved in the challenge imparted educational value and in so doing provided much more than a service treating coughs and colds and alleviating pressure on GPs to treat minor illnesses; they can actually help prevent illness, a function that GP surgeries are not always able to fulfill due to competing demands. The early signs of disease start much younger than many understand and fully appreciate and if they are detected earlier, there is a greater chance to change habits and prevent the serious effects of prolonged poor lifestyle choices, ultimately saving GP time and potentially alleviating pressure on NHS services.


  • Sainsbury’s used this evaluation to launch a new ‘Healthy Living Plan’ to its customers across its 277 in-store pharmacies.
  • The report was praised by Health Minister, Lord Howe: “We welcome this initiative as an excellent example of pharmacists developing innovative new services to help families improve their health and lead healthier lives. This just goes to show the valuable contribution that local community pharmacies are making to help tackle the public health challenges we are facing in this country.”
  • The report formed the backbone of our submission to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s 2013 review.
  • Chris Perrington, Sainsbury’s Pharmacy Superintendent, said: “The Wells Family Challenge detected high blood pressure levels in three out of four sufferers and high cholesterol in 81% of sufferers. This highlights the importance of early intervention and the role pharmacists can play in helping support people to manage the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

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