These could help foster collaboration between pharmacists and local allied health, a Lower Hume-based study has found
Rebecca Murphy from the Lower Hume Primary Care Partnership, on behalf of the Lower Hume Diabetes Working Group, presented a poster at the recent PHAA conference examining the possibility of partnering with pharmacies for integrated diabetes care.
“We work with hospitals and health centres around integrating services, and one of our priorities is chronic disease management,” Murphy says.“We have a local working group of people from community hospitals and other parts of the health network, and a couple of years ago we all got together and talked about what we might like to do about improving care for people with diabetes.
“We have a local working group of people from community hospitals and other parts of the health network, and a couple of years ago we all got together and talked about what we might like to do about improving care for people with diabetes.
“One suggested we invite someone from pharmacy, because of their vital role in diabetes management. So we did that, and it highlighted to us something we had never really thought of in the system before: in pharmacy there can be a lack of knowledge about other community health services or about where to get resources for diabetes.
“People were asking pharmacists questions about diabetes that they might have been too in shock, or too overloaded, to ask when they were first diagnosed.”
The Working Group wanted to know if this communication gap was consistent across the catchment area of Mitchell and Murrindindi Shires in the Lower Hume region, so conducted a survey of local pharmacies, including both pharmacists and pharmacy assistants.
“We asked what sort of diabetes-related services do you provide, and what support from local health services are like – and we find that a lot were answering diabetes-related questions.
“There was a lack of training and confidence with diabetes-related information,” says Murphy. “Out of the survey we determined that pharmacy would like some resources and communication with local health services, and a couple also suggested training.
“It also confirmed knowledge of local health services: the pharmacists knew about their GPs, but in terms of allied health and diabetes education knowledge wasn’t very consistent. There were areas they didn’t know about in allied health, and a lot were recommending people with diabetes go to their GP, when they could’ve been saying, ‘You can go to the diabetes educator’.”
Out of the survey, Murphy and her colleagues developed town-specific resources to help pharmacists get in touch with and refer patients to allied health professionals.
“We’re also looking to put together a number of fact sheets, and we put on a couple of training sessions, delivered by a diabetes educator and a dietician, and an allied health professional around the subject of exercise. These were local service providers.
“As well as pharmacists we invited GP staff – practice managers and practice nurses – to that, and we had very positive evaluations.
“There’s also been some increased communication with pharmacies. Some are really engaged, others not so much, and we’re now doing a full evaluation of this work which will inform resources to look at engaging pharmacy with these health services.
“We’ve also been talking with the Pharmacy Guild around their ideas on supporting this integration, and that’s something we’ll be following up.”
To view the information sessions, visit the working group’s YouTube channel here.