Remote pharmacist shortlisted

Hannah Mann in her pharmacy's dispensary

Pharmacist Hannah Mann has been named a finalist in the Western Australian of the Year awards

Ms Mann has three pharmacies in the remote northern part of the State which make up the Kimberley Pharmacy Services group.

The Western Australian of the Year Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding contribution by an individual to Western Australia by those born and bred in the State, or those who have chosen to make Western Australia their home. The winner will be announced on 4 June.

Ms Mann said there had been added challenges for regional, rural and remote pharmacists over the past year, in particular for her pharmacies in Fitzroy, Derby and Broome.

“COVID-19 basically turned our whole way of operating upside down,” she said.

“We are having to do medication checks remotely while also performing services like medication reviews remotely and also re-educating our patients on how they accessed medications from clinics during this pandemic

“With medications we couldn’t have the face-to-face conversations with our patients that were so much a part of our service delivery. Our patients would come into the clinics to pick their medicines on a regular basis and this meant they may come in every week or fortnight for their various medications.”

Ms Mann’s commitment to ensuring people in the community gain maximum benefit from their medicines through adherence has seen her and her team develop unique symbols to inform when and how medicines should be taken.

After speaking to Indigenous patients, the team realised that as clinicians they had changed the way they spoke to their patients.

“We found we had adjusted our language and we wondered if we needed to look at this more closely,” she said.

“So we did a survey among three different Indigenous communities and asked patients what it meant to them when the label on their medicine said to take it at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and bedtime.

“We understand what that means but what did it actually mean to these patients taking the medicine.

“We asked them what time of day they associated with those instructions and we got a different answer everywhere.”

Following these results Hannah and her staff decided to repeat the survey across a broader reach of patients.

“When we did this we got an even wider range of answers and we found that the different communities had different ways they would like us to describe the different times of day.”

As a result of the research, the team has tailored the instructions on medicines to the communities that people come from.

“We are ensuring that language is consistent with their DAAs, their blister packs and so on. If the patient tells us this what they understand by terms like lunch and dinner, then we make sure the instructions reflect their understanding.

“What is boils down is us saying to the patient: ‘What is it we need to do to make it as easy as possible for you to remember to take your medications’. And that’s the whole point of dose administration aids – to make it as easy as possible for patients to be compliant.

“So we are putting the patient at the centre of that and asking them what language do we need to put on the pack to meet your needs. We know the ‘one size fits all’ type of language isn’t working and we are trying to remedy that.”

In 2019 Hannah spoke to the Guild about how she was working with her patients in Indigenous communities.

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