Cooleman Court Pharmacy in the ACT has been named the 2022 Guild Pharmacy of the Year.
The Guild Pharmacy of the Year Award, conducted annually by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, recognises pharmacies that are leading the way in providing innovative and optimal healthcare for members of their community. The ultimate winner is chosen from the three category winners who this year were:
The awards were presented at the Australian Pharmacy Professional conference (APP) on the Gold Coast in March.
Winner - Excellence in Professional Innovation
Winner - Overall Guild Pharmacy of the Year
At Cooleman Court Pharmacy in the ACT, they are confident they have found the essence of community pharmacy.
It’s been a challenging road which has seen the pharmacy redefine itself.
Proprietor Brad Butt explains that in 2018 the pharmacy undertook a complete refit which saw its footprint reduce from 360sq m to 260sq m.
“We did this in an effort to cleanse our pharmacy of all non-pharmacy lines such as make up, bags, shoes, perfume and so on,” he said.
“The aim was to create a health destination; nothing more, nothing less. We are in the business of healthcare.
“This was the start of a long-awaited transformation which then, also involved the building and solidification of a strong professional team supported by a strong team of pharmacy assistants and dispensing technicians.”
The result, Mr Butt believes, reflects that what the community wants, is much more than general fare.
“They want healthcare, health information, signature categories, reliable medication supply, kind, affable and engaged staff and beyond all else ‘community’ - they want to support the people who support them, those who are open during the pandemic, open during fires, open greater hours, careful with their health, engaged in wellbeing, a fast and reliable delivery service, opening an account, advancing them a script or a few dollars when times are tight.
“And isn’t this the true essence of community pharmacy?”
Mr Butt said the refit gave the pharmacy two dedicated consult rooms, a dedicated and discrete opioid replacement therapy space, stock drop room and a large professional service space, affectionally known in pre -COVID-19 times, as ‘the dance floor’.
The installation of a dispensary robot completed the project which has ensured optimal workflows so “we could better serve the patients and make our workplace an employee friendly space”.
As a health destination, the pharmacy introduced new, or refined and updated existing professional services, and the pharmacy now boasts services including:
Mr Butt says it’s the staff who are the essential key to success in the transformed pharmacy.
And it’s the staff who Mr Butt says are the essential key to success.
Co-managing partner Brooke Veasey said getting the right people was vital.
“More and more, pharmacy employees are wanting to be involved in projects, to have ownership and to take on responsibility,” she said.
“When harnessed and directed it can take the load off other key staff, allowing them to blossom in other areas and everyone wins.
“At Cooleman Court Pharmacy we’ve invested in getting certain key staff first aid accredited, mental health first aid trained, trained on managing the dispensing robot, upskilled into different roles in the pharmacy to give our team greater depth and future proof our operations.
“We’ve also involved staff in offsite vaccination and beyond anything else ensuring that they have a variety of training available to allow them to continue upskilling and become more comfortable managing more and more of the patients’ requests.
“While a lot of this is targeted at pharmacy assistants, dispensing technicians and junior staff, there has also been an effort to make sure we have invested in our pharmacist team through training, conferences, the ability to explore their passions and implement different initiatives (such as Brooke’s cardiac rehab program and Chloe’s opioid replacement therapy support program Pharmetrics).
“This also helps our pharmacy to become a destination of health, and this is what we’re hoping will future proof our business; be a point of difference; make us a destination and one-stop healthcare pharmacy.”
Mr Butt said the pharmacy was well-known in the community for its charity and community work but COVID had limited these activities.
“But with the cessation of so many of the community events we traditionally put on, we’ve pivoted to meet the community’s needs.
“We now offer a substantial business-to-business offsite vaccination program for numerous local businesses (large and small and all over Canberra); we do home vaccinations for patients that can’t, won’t or feel unsafe leaving home; and we’ve expanded delivery services to ensure that patients are kept safe at home.
“We’ve also continued some of our most valuable and rewarding community initiatives including the men’s health conference and patient forum and our involvement in the Cooleman Court Heart Foundation Walking Group continues. This is not only great for our patients and community but also for our staff.”
Winner - Excellence in Business Management
The introduction of a Health Services Concierge role at Amcal Life Clinic Donnybrook Pharmacy WA has help strengthen the pharmacy’s focus on the delivery of health services, according to proprietor Rowan Lowe.
“The Health Services Concierge takes the administrative burden off our pharmacists, freeing them up for more clinical duties,” he said.
“It also ensures better continuity of care for patients and a seamless experience from enquiry, to service, to return visits – appointment bookings, follow-ups, check-ins and sharing information with GPs can all be activated through the Health Services Concierge role.
“We have also installed functional pods, allowing our pharmacists to be anchored forward and this gives better engagement with patients and screening for health services.”
Any issues with availability and access to healthcare services have the potential to deter patients. To combat this, Amcal Life Clinic Donnybrook Pharmacy WA has embraced the health hub concept.
Mr Lowe said it was important to address any problems for patients who may feel deterred in accessing healthcare services.
“We realised that what holds people back is availability and access – getting an appointment, travel, and navigating the health system.
“That’s why we embraced the Amcal Life Clinic ‘health hub’ format.
“What this means is that many of our services are always available, we offer walk-ins and Saturday availability and support with referrals and accessing funding.
“We realised many of our demographic weren’t regularly engaging with the healthcare system and were living with undiagnosed conditions.
“We found they were more likely to engage opportunistically with screening services offered at community events, so we have met this demand. We book appointments on-the-spot to maintain engagement.”
Mr Lowe said the point of difference with the pharmacy was service and the provision of sleep apnoea services was a good example.
“We now have people driving up to two hours to come here for our sleep apnoea services,” he said.
“We pride ourselves on not only giving expert advice but also the patient enjoys a seamless, end-to-end experience.
“With our service model, we utilise specialised team members and technology to regularly follow up with patients, providing ongoing support and care after the patient has left the pharmacy.”
The pharmacy now also has three clinic rooms which are fit-for-purpose with sinks, storage and the necessary clinical equipment.
“We pride ourselves on the provision of a wide range of services and this is really appreciated by our patients. As a result, we have seen services bookings rise to the extent that we now project more than 300 per cent growth in this area,” he said.
“It has also been made possible by us reducing our footprint of gift, beauty and ‘supermarket’ lines while increasing our range of advice-driven products and services such as therapeutic devices.
“But none of this is possible without our team.
“We are passionate about taking every opportunity to invest in our team – to ensure they are professionally and personally fulfilled at work.
“Our shift to a forward-pharmacist model has been made possible by upskilling and empowering our pharmacy and dispensary assistants to really own their spaces.
“They manage the majority of the non-clinical tasks in the pharmacy which allows our pharmacists to focus on clinical tasks.
“We invest time, money and energy in professional and personal learning and development opportunities.
“We also have fortnightly yoga and mindfulness sessions run instore before the workday begins and regular team dinners.
“Our new organisational structure includes specialised roles, and we recruit team members with experience and skill sets beyond ‘traditional’ community pharmacy to enrich our workplace.”
To help future-proof the pharmacy, Mr Lowe said it had embraced the whole-of-business transformation of the Amcal Life Clinic format which aligns with the Guilds’ Framework for Change recommendations.
“This has given us a profitable business model with a competitive advantage and the ability to further grow and adapt with future industry changes,” he said.
“This has seen us continue to offer a wide range of pharmacist-led health services including our sleep apnoea service while further growing our Diabetes Education service.
“We plan to introduce podiatry soon.
“We have strong two-way referrals with local practices and growing relationships with a wider network of GPs, allied health practitioners and specialists,” Mr Lowe said.
“We also attend multi-disciplinary group education and networking events.
“In addition to ensure we are future-proofing the pharmacy we are continuing to invest in ongoing team development and training and maintaining high staffing levels to allow us to embrace growth and development opportunities.”
Winner - Excellence in Community Engagement
Constantly innovating and looking for new ways to provide services for the local community have been a winning formula for TerryWhite Chemmart Rosny Park in Tasmania.
Since purchasing the pharmacy in 2019, proprietor Helen Blake said the team has not stood still.
“We are always innovating and looking at what new things we can implement in the pharmacy,” she said.
“We assess what gaps there are in our community especially on the eastern shore in Hobart and listen to our customers.”
One such innovation has seen the pharmacy become the first pharmacy in Tasmania to be National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) accredited.
“The main NDIS supplier in Hobart closed its shop front during the initial breakout of COVID-19 in 2020 which meant there was nowhere for people to go and browse products available to them on the NDIS.
“Now anyone who utilises the NDIS can come into our pharmacy and browse items they may need or have a consultation with one of our pharmacists.
“It also has opened up the opportunity for people on the NDIS to potentially get their medications put in a dose administration aid under the NDIS.”
This is just one of the changes since purchasing the pharmacy in 2019.
“We have had two new consulting rooms built, giving us a total of three, and we have Allied Health Professionals (AHP) who offer appointments out of these rooms,” Ms Blake said.
“These AHPs include a dietician, diabetes educator, lactation consultants, sleep specialist, counsellor and continence nurse.
“For several of these services we supplement the cost to make the offer available for free or at a discounted rate for our customers.”
The pharmacy now also boasts a purpose-built compounding room which is a major area of growth.
“We also are in the process of becoming the first community pharmacy in Tasmania to be able to dispense medicinal cannabis,” she said.
“And one of the first services we implemented was the opioid replacement therapy program.
“We now have a private waiting area for these customers to make the service to them more discreet, which many of the customers appreciate.”
Increasing and targeting services has also given the pharmacy a deeper insight into community needs.
“From increasing the number of MedsChecks we found the increased conversations and care for people’s health has really improved our patient rapport,” she said.
“The AHP offering in our pharmacy has also grown our rapport with customers, bringing a lot more people from different areas to our pharmacy.
“From the conversations we have had we have been able to see where there are gaps in community pharmacy off erings in Hobart.
“This has been the driving factor in us becoming NDIS accredited, implementing the compounding room, introducing the opioid replacement therapy program and soon being able to dispense medicinal cannabis.
“We have spent time educating doctors on medicinal cannabis as the system is complicated and there is a stigma associated with the use of it. We want to help members of the community who may benefit from it.”
Keeping close to the community is a high priority for the pharmacy.
“We have done fundraising for community groups and have helped people in need including a young mother with two children who escaped a domestic violence situation, so we could help her with pharmacy needs such as medicines, head lice treatment and essential household needs.
“We have held fundraising barbecues and also had a Christmas barbecue to thank our customers for their support which was a great success.
“On Christmas Day we drove around to a few of our customers who we knew did not have family in Tasmania, or due to COVID were not going to get to see them, and took them a small gift and wished them a Merry Christmas.”
Ms Blake said having knowledgeable staff was also a key to keeping in touch with the community and staff education was a feature of the pharmacy.
“We regularly have team meetings, where we get different company reps or health professionals come in to help educate our team, increasing our knowledge and expertise in different areas.
“This is going to benefit our team through job satisfaction but also helps our community by ensuring we have knowledgeable staff members who can really help our customers.
“We also do team bonding sessions including dinners, visits to an escape room, bowling and so on to help grow the team spirit and let our team members know we appreciate what they do for us.”
24 March 2022
Cooleman Court Pharmacy in the ACT has been named the 2022 Guild Pharmacy of the Year.
24 March 2022
The 2022 Guild Pharmacy of the Year competition has returned to its usual format with the judges announcing the three category winners at APP today.