The prestigious Guild Pharmacy of the Year Award is set to be announced at this week’s APP2016 conference on the Gold Coast: in this series, AJP profiles the finalists
A belief in the need to provide mental health services, and the realisation that the local area was generally under-serviced in this field, has helped to shape the future for WA’s Pharmacy 777 in Nollamara.
Proprietor Swarup Afsar says the pharmacy team learned from its community interactions that mental health was an area of need. Swarup, or Sam as he’s more commonly known, is the 2015 UTS Pharmacy Innovative Pharamcist of the Year for his work in mental health.
“It is under-serviced in community pharmacy and this is a glaring oversight as pharmacists are pivotal in healthcare,” he says.
“We decided to develop a mental health module that was non-threatening and easily available.
“By encouraging simple conversations and recording customer progress, pharmacists observed changes very quickly and these included increased confidence and rapport, as well as positive lifestyle changes in mental health patients.
“When we designed our Mental Health Protocol, we went to see eight GPs in the local area along with two psychiatrists.
“This consultation resulted in us promoting compliance checks more consistently and helping patients seek cognitive behavioural therapies such as counselling and hypnotherapy.
“The pharmacy ensures the patient’s medication compliance, investigates any sleep disorders and provides counselling/hypnotherapy services.
“Our Mental Health Module looks at every mental illness sufferer as a whole.
“To optimise the service even further we hired a registered counsellor to join our team and the counselling room was modified to enable private counselling consultations.
“The friendly, approachable atmosphere and advantages of inter-professional collaboration ensures the service is used to its full potential.”
Afsar says that customers are now referred if the pharmacist believs they would benefit from cognitive therapy.
“We believe this will open new opportunities within the pharmacy profession because pharmacists can ask R U OK? every day,” he says.
In the mental health area, the services featured are mental health counselling, solution-focused psycho-dynamic therapy, and cognitive behavioural therapy.
The introduction of the mental health service underscores the pharmacy’s commitment to listen and learn from its customers.
Afsar stresses that as it continually learns from its customers in an area of demographic change, so it adapts to their needs.
“Our changing demographic has seen a lot of younger families moving into the area and this has resulted in our services evolving in the past eight years, making our team a trusted source of up-to-date information,” he says.
“This is where our greatest opportunity potentially lies.
“We have changed our business model significantly to cater for the younger population that is moving into the area.
“We have developed an extensive baby product range to attract the local mothers.
“Our pharmacists speak various languages such as Arabic, Spanish, Hindi, Bengali, Macedonian, Serbian and Polish.
“This gives us a big advantage in the market place given the multicultural demography in Nollamara.
“Our multiculturalism attracts ethnic customers which illustrates the basic human need of communication and being understood.”
by Peter Waterman