Changing the pharmacy experience

Pharmacy assistant Teresa Procter with Guy Dorries.

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

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

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

“We like to offer our customers a highly personalised service where they can come 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 a great opportunity to pick up some more tips and further enhance our service.”

“The people coming in for consultations may have mental health issues such as depression and schizophrenia and as part of what we provide, we may talk about
a range of issues concerning their medications. However conversations often go off-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 the pharmacy 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 simple strategies to manage their medicines. Generally feedback has been positive, with
everyone stating that they benefit from being able to talk about how to get the best from their medications.”

Teresa says the biggest thing she has learnt from being a part of the program so far, 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 and opposed to receiving advice regarding medication. Therefore when I hear this type of thing from people, I try to draw on my own personal experience of how tough things can be and try not to be too judgemental!

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

A source of comfort

Local Carindale resident, Guy Dorries, 57, has been involved in the Mental Health 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 lung disease, high blood pressure and depression,” says Mr Dorries. “I have also had a recent spell in hospital, so I am pleased to be taking part in the program and getting some extra support.

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

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

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

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