Changing the pharmacy experience

Pharmacy assistant Teresa Procter with Guy Dorries.

People experiencing a mental illness such as depression or anxiety and theirfamily members or carers are being sought to take part in a Griffith Universitystudy to ensure consumers get the best out of their medicines. The Mental Healthand Community Pharmacy Project is funded by the Australian GovernmentDepartment of Health as part of the Fifth Community Pharmacy Research andDevelopment Program managed by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

Aligned with the Australian Government’s focus on mental health, the Projectassists pharmacy staff to improve their skills to work with mental healthconsumers.

Teresa Proctor is the manager at Meadowlands Pharmacy in Carindale.Teresa attended the Mental Health and Community Pharmacy workshop inBrisbane last November and said it was a highly beneficial experience.

“We like to offer our customers a highly personalised service where they cancome in and have a bit of a chat with us about what’s going on in their lives.

Talking about a range of issues concerning medication

Therefore when the chance arose to do this workshop I thought it would be agreat opportunity to pick up some more tips and further enhance our service.”

“The people coming in for consultations may have mental health issues such asdepression and schizophrenia and as part of what we provide, we may talk about
a range of issues concerning their medications. However conversations often gooff-track too and we sometimes end up having chats with family members about
the challenges of caring for elderly relatives.”

“So far we’re seeing around six customers who’ve agreed to come into thepharmacy on a weekly or fortnightly basis and the arrangement is going well for
both them and us. In a quiet area of the pharmacy we work out together simplestrategies to manage their medicines. Generally feedback has been positive, with
everyone stating that they benefit from being able to talk about how to get thebest from their medications.”

Teresa says the biggest thing she has learnt from being a part of the program sofar, is to not be overly reactive to what people have to say. “I myself have
experience of looking after an elderly relative who can be difficult at times andopposed to receiving advice regarding medication. Therefore when I hear thistype of thing from people, I try to draw on my own personal experience of howtough things can be and try not to be too judgemental!

“This program is a great way of ensuring consumers get the best out of theirmedicines and I am hopeful that we will be able to recruit more people in duecourse, as well as get carers more involved.”

A source of comfort

Local Carindale resident, Guy Dorries, 57, has been involved in the MentalHealth program for almost a year and says it has provided him with comfort and
support during a period of ill health.

“In total I am currently taking 13 medications for conditions including chronic lungdisease, high blood pressure and depression,” says Mr Dorries. “I have also had arecent spell in hospital, so I am pleased to be taking part in the program andgetting some extra support.

“The staff at the Meadowlands Pharmacy know my wife and I very well, as theydo my GP, so going in to have a consult is very helpful, particularly as I am takingso many different drugs. Teresa and the team are always very good at suggestingalternative generic drugs which may be cheaper, or advising me about potentialcontraindications.

“They also suggest helpful ways of remembering how to take my medication and Ican’t argue with that!

“The program is a great idea for people with any form of mental illness, to helpthem feel more confident in how they approach their treatment. I thoroughly
recommend it.”

If you would like more information, call us free on 1800 600 687 or [email protected]