Top award for pharmacy program

Project lead Dr Juanita Westbury, Julia Gillard and Sue Edwards, vice president of the PSA SA.

A medicines reduction program run by the University of Tasmania has won an award for services to mental health

The University of Tasmania’s RedUSe (Reducing Use of Sedatives) program has won an award in the 2018 Mental Health Service Awards of Australia and New Zealand.

This program, led by Dr Juanita Westbury and Professor Gregory Peterson from the university’s College of Medicine and Health, aimed to reduce antipsychotic and benzodiazepine prescribing in residential aged care facility residents.

It won in the Education, Training and Workforce Development category, given in recognition of the achievement of excellence, innovation and best practice in mental health services.

The award was announced on 29 August at the annual TheMHS Conference held this year in Adelaide, South Australia.

It was presented to Dr Juanita Westbury by Ms Nicolle Flint MP, Member for Boothby, representing The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Federal Minister for Health.

The awards are sponsored by the Commonwealth Government of Australia and the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

Former Prime Minister and chair of beyondblue, Julia Gillard (pictured above, centre), is the Ambassador for the awards in her hometown of Adelaide and was also present at the event.

The RedUSe Program is a Department of Health-funded initiative that aimed to promote appropriate management of common mental health symptoms in residential aged care through a multi-strategic, interprofessional approach.

The community pharmacy-led program was delivered to 150 aged care homes across six states and the ACT from 2014-2016.

Training in appropriate management of elderly mental health conditions provided to the aged care sector was substantial, with 3000 RACF nurses and carers, GPs and pharmacists attending educational sessions.

RedUSe led to significant reductions in the use of sedatives with 95% of participant homes recording a reduction in the use of sedating medication.

Dr Westbury said that community pharmacists were “integral” to the project’s success.

“It’s a great example of what community pharmacy can do and was a Pharmacy Guild-funded project in the pilot stages,” she said.

“We received feedback from nursing staff that they valued the opportunity to receive training about psychoactive medications from their community pharmacist or QUM pharmacist who they already had good working relationships with, rather than trainers they didn’t know,” Dr Westbury told AJP.

“They also felt that the project enhanced their relationship with their pharmacist and that they could ask questions about other medications their residents were taking.”

TheMHS Conference is the largest mental health and addiction services conference in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, with over 1000 delegates attending the 2018 event.

It aims to promote positive attitudes about mental health and mental illness, and to stimulate debate that challenges the boundaries of knowledge and ideas about mental health care.

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