Pharmacy 777 Nollamara: mental health leads the way

Pharmacy 777 Nollamara

Pharmacy 777 in Nollamara, WA is a finalist in the Guild’s Pharmacy of the Year Award.

The implementation of an innovative mental health service, including counselling for patients, has helped to distinguish Pharmacy 777 in Nollamara, WA, from the strong competition of a number of nearby pharmacies.

Proprietor Swarup Afsar says the service was developed in close consultation and collaboration with other healthcare professionals.

“When we designed our Mental Health protocol, we went to see eight GPs in the local area along with two psychiatrists,” he says.

“This consultation resulted in us promoting compliance checks more consistently and helping patients seek cognitive behavioural therapies such as counselling and hypnotherapy.

“We have employed a counsellor who is also a hypnotherapist to assist our patients with the cognitive behavioural therapy, quit smoking and lose weight.

“The pharmacy ensures 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.”

This focus on collaborative work with other health providers extends to other services provided through the pharmacy.

“We send out regular letters to local doctors to notify them of any new services as well as visiting them,” Afsar says.

“The progress of all the patients is communicated to their GPs via fax or letter or email.

“With our sleep apnoea module, the local sleep physician who oversees the patient collaborates with the patient’s GP.

“We hold regular seminars with local physiotherapists to detail different pharmacological options to treat pain.

“We are very proud to have formed a strong ‘spider-like’ network with the local health professionals.”

Afsar says the pharmacy also has close community ties and it promotes its unique mental health counselling service to local schools, offices and mothers’ groups.

“When we visited the local schools, only two of them had a school psychologist,” he says.

“One of them actually told us that the teenagers who are victims of bullying do not feel comfortable walking into her room because the others tease them.

“Our counsellor is seeing quite a lot of local school kids who are being bullied or abused.

“Our multilingual pharmacists visit six local mothers’ groups once a month. The languages we speak in the pharmacy are Arabic, Spanish, Hindi, Bengali, Macedonian, Serbian and Polish.

“Most of these mothers’ groups are from different nationalities. Being able to relate to a health professional makes a big difference in their life and their child’s health. We have a lot of post-natal depression sufferers seeing our counsellors as well.”

The incidence of post-natal depression has become more evident as the demographics of the area change.

“The demography has changed to predominantly young couples and maturing families,” Afsar says.

“This is where our greatest opportunity lies. We have changed our business model significantly to cater for the younger population.”

Afsar says that in Pharmacy 777 Nollamara the belief is that a service has to be added to every product.

“We don’t believe in ‘companion sales’, instead its ‘health solution selling’.

“We also call everyone patients, not customers. We actually have a swear jar – everyone has to put in a dollar for uttering the word ‘customer’. Such a culture helps us emphasise our professional services.

“We have only pharmacists attending to every patient. Our pharmacists hand out every prescription which allows the best advice to be given out every time. This also allows a thorough medication compliance check.”

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