Assistants’ role essential to PPI programs
Pharmacy assistants have a major role to play in helping to facilitate the Pharmacy Practice Incentives (PPIs) program contained in the Fifth Community Agreement, says Pharmacy Guild of Australia president, Kos Sclavos.
For example, more than $340m was allocated to six priority areas in the program, including: Dose Administration Aids (DAAs), Clinical Interventions, Staged Supply, Primary Healthcare, Community Services Support and Working with Others.
'Pharmacy assistants have a key triage role to explain to patients what services are available in pharmacy,' Kos says.
'They can inform patients while they are waiting for their scripts and help with in-store displays outlining what services are available. Staff must familiarise themselves with them and be able to explain them to their customers in plain language that they will understand.
'For example, they need to explain what "DAA" actually means as it will mean nothing to the majority of their customers. So they should say: "Our pharmacy has a service where we can pack your medicines into an easy to remember device to help you to remember to take your medicines."'
Kos adds that it's useful to have a mock-up DAA handy to show the patient, explain its key benefits and how it can help them with medication compliance.
Additionally, he says staff should 'role play' with each other and use the support materials that are available on www.5cpa.com.au
He adds in order to become confident in assisting with the PPIs program it was useful to 'start small' in area that they are already familiar with.
'Certainly, if your pharmacy already offers a DAAs service then this is the easiest place to start. It is basically about "picking a champion"; undertaking the training that is available, either online or face-to-face; develop a documented workflow process; and set goals,' Mr Sclavos adds.
Kos also stresses that pharmacy assistants should not make diagnostic or clinical decisions but must know when to refer to the pharmacist.
'But there are many programs that pharmacy assistants are more than capable of participating in. For example, if you take a program like Blood Pressure testing, the key is to practice it-with the supervision of the pharmacist-until they feel comfortable. The pharmacist can give them feedback on the key elements required as well as take them through the protocols,' Kos says.
It's essential to use pharmacy's resources wisely and for pharmacists to work in concert with pharmacy assistants to optimise the professional programs in the Agreement.
'In many pharmacies, pharmacy assistants do the administration work around a particular program. For example, with the web-based Mirixa clinical intervention program, such as Mirixa, pharmacy assistants can make appointments. Or with blood pressure monitoring pharmacy assistants can do the preparation work with the patient, by sitting them down, explaining what will happen and ensuring that they are settled before the reading is taken,' Kos says.
'We've had a tremendous support for the PPI program with 4,700 pharmacies signed up. That kicks a key box for Health Minister Nicola Roxon who has said many times she wants to see the uptake of new programs nationally. The key priority now is to execute them in community pharmacy,' Kos says.