Roisin Cahill is a busy Kilkenny woman at present. As well as running her new business RoCa Healthcare, she also is a front line worker as a pharmacist working in multiple pharmacies in the South East.
This week I chatted to her on the phone about what it is like in her pharmacy job, while being separated from her parents as they carry on with her healthcare business from their living room.
Roisin is daughter to Pat and Claver Cahill, she has one sister Iseult. Many people might know her mum Claver as the vice-principal of Kilkenny College. Her father Pat has over 30 year’s extensive background in animal nutrition and works with Roisin in her new business venture Roca Healthcare.
Roisin qualified as a pharmacist four years ago and last year she founded Roca Healthcare. She has such a passion for gut health and this is what her company is about.
Here is a glimpse into Roisin’s busy world:
Rosin, what is your day job as a pharmacist like since the coronavirus pandemic?
We are operating with skeleton staff so we are not all on the same shift in case one of us gets the virus. If the whole team gets it, the pharmacy would have to close.
People are aware that they can call their pharmacy now and get their prescription sent out to them. There are no over the counter sales anymore or browsing in the pharmacy shops, and the working hours are less. Some of us have been asked if we would like to take the government help and not to work in order to keep staff numbers low which, in turn, reduces the spread of the virus.
Everywhere has the Perspex screens up and I myself have started wearing a mask. The days are lot more draining, even though they are shorter, because we are dealing with a lot more phone calls from worried people. I think it’s very hard for people with sick children and those who have suppressant immune systems.
Half of the staff are terrified; they can’t see their kids for a week or they can’t get childcare. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful to be working and we have to keep reminding ourselves of that. There are lots of other people sitting at home, out of a job, so I am grateful to do what I can.
Are customers being careful or are we slipping as we enter another week of the lock down?
I think people were very slow in the beginning in taking it seriously. They are starting to get it now but we are worried about they will get bored and complacent.
It’s important for people to remember that the places they are going to pick the virus up now are probably in the likes of pharmacies and doing the food shop. So they need to reduce those outings or order on line. Most pharmacies are dropping medicines out to your car so there’s no need to come in.
What is your new business Roca Healthcare about?
Roca is a healthcare company that focuses on promoting good gut health and the immune system.
A couple of years ago, when I started working as a pharmacist, I noticed a lot of people were suffering with their tummy health and they were getting sick quite regularly. On top of that autoimmune diseases and depression are on the rise. People were coming into the pharmacy more regularly with asthma, psoriasis, IBS and Lyme disease. I became quite interested in gut health, and the more I found out about how the gut is connected to your whole health, conditions and diseases.
About a year and half ago, I got the opportunity to start the company - my dad gave me the nudge to get it going. We started with two products and we have the exclusive rights to distribute them through Ireland and the UK. One is a high a high fibre supplement called Sylliflor and the other is a colostrum which is a whole food and the first milk from mammal.
A pharmacist normally deal with prescription pills, you went a whole other direction.
Yes, when I started first a lot of pharmacies turned up their noses at me. Then I went to the health shops, they weren’t interested because I was a pharmacist. So I was getting nowhere and I thought maybe I should have bought a new car instead with the money I was starting the company with!
Then the online shop took off and we realised that 60% of our customers were return customers and the rest from recommendations. After a while, it went a full 360, now pharmacies are ringing us up to place orders.
We are in 55 pharmacies, five health food shops, healthy cafés, along with the online store and nutritional clinics stocking the products.
So who is looking after the business while you are doing essential work in pharmacies?
Mum and Dad are. They have set up a headquarters in their sitting room! The orders are going direct into them. Plus I am staying away from my parents and I don’t want to handle the packaging.
My parents have the highest of anti- virus quality control system. The orders come into them and they deal with DPD almost daily. They are in the 60s and are a super help. I’d like to remind people to wipe down any packages or shopping that you are bringing into your home.
You do a lot of business through social media and influencers. Your father has a traditional background in sales and marketing, what does he think of the social platforms?
It was gas in the beginning - he didn’t get it all. However when we set up the online shop and every time an order came in Pat would receive a little ding on his phone. He thought this was the best thing ever and was texting me constantly when orders came in. I’d even get a little cowboy emoji if we had a good day!
What really surprised both of us was the more effort that was put into Instagram and Facebook, it directly related to an increase in sales. For Dad in the beginning he didn’t want to know any of this but as he saw the results he downloaded Instagram and is now hooked. He even follows my friends!
What is Sylliflor?
Sylliflor is a tasty fibre from psyllium husks which is great to help keep you fuller for longer and regulate bowel movements. It also helps with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), constipation during pregnancy and best of all it feeds your microbiome which helps to boost your gut health and immune system.
Eight out of ten Irish adults are not getting enough fibre every day and this is a tasty easy way to fix that.
You also have colostrum or as some of us know it as biestings from the cow, which I thought only calves drank?
Yes it is the first milk from cows and the colostrum we use are from cows in Denmark. Usually when a cow has a calf it will produce 20 to 25 litres of colostrum in the first few days; out of that the calf needs five litres and we use the rest. It’s then dried through a process to keep all the bio active substances active.
We have ColoDan Colostrum which is naturally rich in immune factors and bioactive components. It is referred to as a superfood and is jammed packed with essential proteins, fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It’s brilliant for your skin too.
So what does this superfood do for us?
Lots. As well as having anti-inflammatory factors, it is a powerful daily food to boost the immune system and intestinal health. This is especially good for those with leaky gut, Irritable Bowel Diseases (IBDs) such as Chron’s Disease, diverticulitis and colitis as well as for people who are immunocompromised and going through chemotherapy.
More than ever we need to be looking after our health while taking care of our families at home. How can we use the products in everyday meals?
There’s lots of flavours in the Syllifor – plain, malt, cocoa, vanilla, apple and cinnamon.
At the moment I’m snacking a lot, so I just want something that will just fill me up. I add the Sylliflor to smoothies with yogurt and berries and top it with some nut butter.
It’s really important to drink a glass of water afterwards, otherwise it just sits in your tummy. The water helps to absorb it in and that’s how it gets active and gets you going!
They are great for weight loss and keeping you fuller for longer. There’s loads of recipes on our website www.rocahealthcare.com.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.