24-hour Supercare: two months in


AJP checks up on one of Victoria’s Supercare pharmacies as it prepares for the rollout of its free nursing service 

Ascot Vale Pharmacy was one of five pharmacies that switched to a 24-hour schedule in late June, under a $28.7 million Victorian Government plan to see 20 of these “Supercare” pharmacies open by 2018.

“The intention was to take pressure off emergency departments,” says Dimitra Tsucalas, a pharmacist at Ascot Vale Pharmacy in north-west Melbourne, which participates in the initiative.

“It’s been very different obviously. We’ve had to recruit new staff and we’re really happy with those.

“We had to fill two eight-hour shifts, so we hired two new pharmacists, a pharmacy assistant and a security guard.”

Tsucalas says the pharmacy has been able to provide additional assistance because of the extended hours.

“The baby market and getting advice is a big area, so parents – particularly new parents – have been very welcoming of the change to 24 hours.

“There’s people coming in needing things they’ve forgotten through the day, or for primary care services easily dealt with in a pharmacy,” says Tsucalas.

However she says more needs to be done to spread awareness of the initiative.

“Our busiest time is still through the day because there hasn’t been a great public awareness campaign. The election took the spotlight just after this all happened.

“The Department [of Health] is aware of that. Some emergency department staff were aware of us when we opened, but some weren’t. So we’ve made ourselves known to them.”

Ascot Vale Pharmacy will be revisiting the need to increase awareness with the department, she says.

Meanwhile, the pharmacy has its nursing service rolling out today (24 August) as part of the scheme.

The free nursing service will offer basic care such as wound management, physical assessment, flu and whooping cough immunisations, health screening such as blood pressure checks, sexual health advice and referrals to other local services.

“People are waiting for the nurses to come on board. The nursing staff will be in from 6pm to 10pm every night,” Tsucalas says.

From this month, four Supercare pharmacies will be providing this free nursing service.

A fifth in Ballarat will be starting on 2 September, confirms the Victorian Department of Health.

Read more:

Open all hours: inside a Supercare Pharmacy

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