Helping carers through the health care maze

Sarah Harrington, Adam McIntyre, Brinley Hosking, Danelle Lynn and James Nevile.

Pharmacy support for carers needs a much higher profile, says an Amcal spokesperson

Amcal is hosting a booth at the 7th International Carers Conference, currently underway in Adelaide, where pharmacists have been speaking to carers about the support pharmacy can give them.

“A lot of the feedback we’ve had, during conversations from both carers and other interested individuals, such as people who work in government departments, is that they’re not 100% aware of the role that pharmacy plays,” says James Neville, Amcal Senior Pharmacist and spokesperson.

“The visibility of the service pharmacy provides is not where it needs to be.”

Mr Neville presented at the conference yesterday on pharmacy’s role, and conference attendees have been taking advantage of heart health checks and HbA1c testing at the Amcal booth, where pharmacists are conducting 15-minute health sessions. Amcal is a platinum sponsor of the event.

“We’ve had a massive response,” he says. “We’re doing health checks, and we’re talking about things like medicines reviews, better management of scripts, whether that’s simple stuff like scripts on file or MedsChecks, HMRs, dose administration aids and medicines reminders.

“It’s the simple stuff that we as pharmacists take for granted that everyone would know, but it’s not necessarily the case.”

Pharmacists of all banner groups or none are positioned to help Australia’s 2.7 million carers look after not just their loved one, but themselves, Mr Neville told the AJP.

“The thing that’s been really reinforced for me is that carers are often thrust into this role where they’re doing, essentially, unpaid health care work, and they don’t often have a health care background,” he says.

“And we’re asking them to manage multiple medicines for people, do wound care… pharmacy is in a great position to help, because we’re the ones who see them most often to help them provide for their care recipient.

“But we also need to make sure they’re taking care of their own health at the same time.

“That role of pharmacy in mental health first aid is something that we, as an industry broadly, need to find ways of doing more.

“Informally, we’ve done it for many years. But with the advent of courses around mental health first aid, there’s more opportunities for pharmacy to get more evidence-based and systematic about how we handle queries and pick up early warning signs.”

Carers may be at risk of not only mental health issues, but also cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

“Guiding all this has been the idea of patient-centred care,” Mr Neville says.

“The theme of this conference is about looking forward into the future of caring and health care, and what it could look like.

“But no matter what new technology comes out, or new treatments, carers need to get involved in working with their health care team – GPs, pharmacists, nurses – to make sure whatever it is they’re taking, they feel empowered.

“And for true patient-centred care, health care professionals need to support, rather than direct.”

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