Meet the finalists: Capital Chemist Wanniassa


We meet the finalists in the Guild Pharmacy of the Year competition, starting with Canberra’s Capital Chemist Wanniassa

Building on their own experiences in the community has helped to reinforce the effectiveness of health promotion activities undertaken by the pharmacists and staff at Canberra’s Capital Chemist Wanniassa.

Partners Honor Penprase and Elise Apolloni hold at least two health promotions every month – and raise money for at least two community charities corresponding with the promotions.

Community is a defining word at the pharmacy and for the pharmacy staff.

“There are countless community engagement activities we undertake every year, from fun-runs, relays for life and volunteering roles to fundraisers, school visits and sponsorship for local groups and events,” Apolloni says.

“There have been several stand-out activities for 2016.

“Our Beyond Blue Bake sale held in memory of our team member who took her life has been held the last two years on her birthday in April. This year we raised $2,200 in eight hours-which demonstrates how a community rallies around local small business and the issues which impact our team.”

The loss of the team member also was the greatest challenges faced by the pharmacy.

As Apolloni explains: “The rebuilding of our team and the steps to emotional recovery have been our greatest challenge to date.

“However, with great challenges comes significant personal and professional growth and our pharmacy was honoured to receive the ‘ACT Prevention, detection and early intervention’ award in Mental Health Week 2016.

“Capital Chemist Wanniassa was the first recognised Gold Standard Skilled Workplace for Mental Health First Aid in the country.

“We know many people in our personal and professional lives are impacted by mental illness and suicide.

“We know pharmacy teams across the country have lost colleagues, employers, customers, family and friends to suicide, and we feel an enormous responsibility to the entire pharmacy profession to share our story, and the pain associated with that to help identify and hopefully prevent other pharmacies, but more importantly, communities having to deal with the impact of suicide.”

The sense of community is also reflected in the pharmacy’s engagement activities.

“We are also proud of the community engagement the #WanniWhiteCoat public health messages and videos have generated on social media,” Apolloni says.

“From diabetes, to mental health, asthma, and immunisation, we proudly and consistently go outside our comfort zone to distribute health messages through social media that captivate the public and give a virtual ‘health hug’ to our followers.

“A recent public health message video about breast cancer awareness month proved enormously successful and has been watched over 1,500 times across Capital Chemist Wanniassa social media platforms on facebook, Instagram and twitter.

“The conversations this type of community engagement generates in both the virtual and physical pharmacy setting is profound and keeps growing.”

Penprase says the pharmacy also engages the community through health promotions which help to send a message to the community that the pharmacy and its staff are not just about providing medicine and treating illness.

Rather its aim is to help prevent illness and to keep customers in the best of health.

“By sharing health messages through different activities including school visits, providing training to nurses at our local walk-in health clinic, disease screening test days, social media films and messages we can convey our passion for preventive health and make connections in our local community to build stronger relationships with people at all ages and stages,” Penprase says.

The engagement with community has been underpinned by increasing the number of staff and since 2015 the pharmacy has have doubled the number of staff pharmacists and now trades 99 hours per week, 7am-10pm weekdays and 9am-9pm on weekends and public holidays.

“Our mission is to be the pharmacy experts at the forefront of extended-hours healthcare. Our vision is to make a positive impact and support the health of our community.

“Our team strives to be the most educated and passionate pharmacist health experts in Canberra,” Penprase says.

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