A pharmacy clinic in Canberra has been recognised for its services to men’s health
Men’s Health Downunder, a pharmacist-run clinic for male urological issues, has been named winner of the ACT Men’s Health Award in Canberra this week.
The men’s health clinic is managed by Cooleman Court Pharmacy in Weston Creek, which serves a population of about 35,000 people – although it now takes men’s health referrals from all over Australia, both in metro and regional areas.
“It’s typically on referral from a doctor, be it the urologist or a GP or a sexual health and family planning doctor, physiotherapist, sexologist or prostate nurse,” explains Bradley Butt, managing partner at Cooleman Court Pharmacy (part of the Life Pharmacy Group) and lead pharmacist at Men’s Health Downunder.
“We link in with a lot of allied health providers to get the referrals. And obviously we get word of mouth as well, so a good number of blokes will just front up and say that their friend or partner or somebody has said that they should come in and have a yarn with us.”
Mr Butt established Men’s Health Downunder in 2013, when he had a patient who needed some help after getting his prostate removed.
About half of the patients they now see are still related to prostatectomies, however the clinic has since expanded to include erectile dysfunction, Peyronie’s disease, incontinence and more.
Mr Butt now has three full-time men’s health pharmacists working alongside him in the clinic.
“We’ve got six pharmacists [at Cooleman Court Pharmacy], normally there’s at least two of the blokes here that do the men’s health work,” he tells AJP.
He says patients like the being able to sit in the private consult room with a dedicated pharmacist, and being able to make an appointment.
“Equally on an ad hoc basis they come into the pharmacy,” says Mr Butt.
“You can actually say, ‘hey do you have five minutes, I just have a couple of questions’, and be able to have that pharmacist join you in the consult room in a private, safe space and ask your questions without being interrupted.”
The first consult can be an “onerous process”, which is often the reason why a GP or specialist may not have time to spend with the patient—a gap the pharmacists have filled gladly.
“An initial consult runs for about 45 minutes with the patient, irrespective of what their concern is, in terms of gathering medical history, making sure their drugs are appropriate for the patient, and then running through what we have to run through in terms of outcomes and goals,” he says.
“The general consensus is that ‘the urologist was too busy to tell me, he just wrote me the script and said go and do it and didn’t give me much instruction, and here I am and I’m not quite sure what to do’.
“We’re able to offer a service where we can tell the patient exactly what to do and break down some of the barriers.”
The clinic pharmacists’ primary role is to provide counselling, coupled with supply of medications.
“There’s certainly a supply element, which is typically intracavernosal injections such as Caverject and PDE5 inhibitors such as Cialis, vacuum erection devices.
“The other component, which is the more bulky part of the time we spend in the consultations, is around counselling – so importance on compliance, how they’re to take medications, how it’s administered. If you’re injecting a needle into your penis you want to know what you’re doing.
“If the patients aren’t counselled correctly or they get misinformation, then the compliance suffers and as a result their outcomes will be equally affected in a negative way,” says Mr Butt.
“We also set expectations. We want the guys to leave knowing roughly what the path in front of them looks like and set some milestones that we want them to hit – so what should be happening in a month, three months, six months, 12 months, 18 months.”
Mr Butt was upskilled in the area by leading urologist Dr Hodo Haxhimolla, and now trains his pharmacists with the same specialist knowledge.
We’re able to offer a service where we can tell the patient exactly what to do and break down some of the barriers.—Bradley Butt, founder, Men’s Health Downunder
Cooleman Court Pharmacy men’s health pharmacist Tim Stewart, the MIMS/Guild Intern of the Year 2018, says he fell into the area after working alongside Mr Butt.
“It’s a bit of a novel title but even just introducing yourself as a men’s health pharmacist often puts a bit of confidence into your patient,” he tells AJP.
“As soon as I started helping these gentlemen that weren’t getting much help elsewhere … having that slight expertise in that area and being able to really help them in all aspects of their health, specifically the ones they have difficulty talking about with other health professionals, seeing the difference that you can make in their life – it’s an area that’s easy to be passionate about.
“Pharmacy is particularly accessible for men’s health. Men are not likely to book in or to really set aside time to care of their own health, so having a pharmacy where you can literally walk in and there’s a pharmacist that’s able to sit down and have a chat with you about your health makes it really easily accessible for these guys,” says Mr Stewart.
It’s great to be recognised in the men’s health sector, he says of being awarded the ACT Men’s Health Award.
“This is an award that came from a public vote but also an internal panel at the Australian Men’s Health Forum which is completely unrelated to pharmacy. To be recognised by a group of people that haven’t often looked at pharmacists as being helpful in this area is really great.”
Mr Butt says being recognised with the award means they can continue their good work.
“It also gives us a little bit of publicity to encourage others to work in the space so we can reach more men.
“It’s a huge need in our community and in our society, in Australia, that we look after these men and boys better. Essentially at the end of the day what we really want to do is improve the health and wellbeing of men across this wonderful wide big country.”
Australian Men’s Health Forum Awards are being made across Australia this week during Men’s Health Week from 10-16 June.
See more on Men’s Health Downunder here.