Going the extra mile to supply palliative care medications

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Going the extra mile to supply palliative care medications

Pharmacist Kerryn Pearsons ensures palliative care medications are available when they are needed.

Ensuring her pharmacy always enough specialised palliative care medicines on hand to meet immediate demand across her community is a priority for SA pharmacist Kerryn Pearsons.

Mrs Pearsons’ Victor Harbour pharmacy is involved in a state-wide project, which encourages community pharmacists to stock five core palliative medicines.

Under the project, selected pharmacies stock the injectable medicines and make them available to other pharmacies as needed. The objective is to increase access to the most commonly prescribed palliative care medicines and make them available immediately they are needed.

Paul Tait, Palliative Care Pharmacist with the Southern Adelaide Palliative Services, said the project covered the Fleurieu Peninsula, incorporating rural and semi-urban areas south of Adelaide.

Mr Tait said the program had increased the proportion of pharmacies carrying the five core medications from 6.7% in 2012 to 18.4% in 2015.

Mrs Pearsons’ pharmacy, which has been enrolled in the project from the outset, stocks palliative care medicines for local residents and for other pharmacies in the district.

"We are the palliative care hub. Other pharmacies can choose to either borrow the product from us or send the patient to us. We don't mind either way as we just want what is best for the patient," she said.

"If the person needs the medicines now, then we can get those medicines to them immediately. Being open seven days a week means we are available when the patients need us.”

She said that multidisciplinary relationships are paramount.

"A nurse may ring us and tell us they are coming into the pharmacy in half an hour and we can have the medicines ready for them. They can order over the phone or fax, which saves times for them and stress for the patient.

"We also have a very good relationship with our GPs and this communication between ourselves, the GPs and nurses is very important and works to produce the best outcomes for the patient.

Mrs Pearsons said the pharmacy ensured adequate stocks were on hand to get patients started on their regimen.

"We have enough for the nurses who may, for instance, be setting up pumps," she said.

"We also show the patient's family that we have what they need and can have it ready in a timely manner and we make sure the whole process is easy and straight forward.

"They have enough on their minds already so we do everything we can to be supportive and helpful."

Mr Tait said the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia provided education programs to community pharmacists as part of the project. The Southern Adelaide-Fleurieu-Kangaroo Island Medicare Local engaged general practitioners.

“The project was deemed successful and has informed a broader roll out of pharmacy engagement with palliative care services across the southern Adelaide region,” he said.

*Mr Waterman is Communications Specialist the Pharmacy Guild of Australia