Dementia educator gets Pharmacist of the Year plaudit

Dr Andrew Stafford

People in nursing homes are too often forgotten but pharmacists have an opportunity to make a difference in their lives, says the 2018 MIMS Consultant Pharmacist of the Year, as named by the Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacists (AACP).

The award was recently bestowed upon Dr Andrew Stafford MPS at ConPharm in Brisbane last month, in recognition of his commitment to excellence in the practice of Residential Medication Management Reviews (RMMRs).

Among other roles, Dr Stafford is a Director at Consultant Pharmacy Services and manages its WA operations, which includes RMMRs for people across several hundred nursing home beds.

‘Old people in nursing homes, by and large, are the forgotten members of society,’ he said.

‘We don’t really give them the acknowledgement and we don’t care for them as well as we should. As a pharmacist, we have an opportunity to make a difference.’

Dr Stafford is a passionate advocate for the importance of medication reviews and the Quality Use of Medicines in aged care. He told Australian Pharmacist he was inspired by Dr Faizal Ibrahim’s presentation at ConPharm a few years ago, in which Dr Ibrahim said he wants ‘to make dementia sexy’.

‘It sounds kind of funny, but I absolutely understand what he’s saying,’ said Dr Stafford.

With work being done to help pharmacists become more involved in other clinical areas, such as general practices, Dr Stafford said it was an exciting time in the broader profession, but roadblocks continue to stand in the way of pharmacists achieving the profession’s potential.

‘We’re currently one of the few healthcare professions who aren’t reimbursed under the MBS, which is restricting the services we can offer to those funded out of the Community Pharmacy Agreement,’ he said.

‘Pharmacists should be able to provide a much broader suite of medication management services, ranging from participation in team care arrangements for chronic disease management, [to] medication review services and consultations of varying complexity in general practices, aged care homes, perhaps even private consulting rooms.’

‘The more we can integrate into multidisciplinary teams within the community, the more other professions will understand and value what pharmacists can do. Increasing the utilisation of pharmacists’ expertise in these settings can only improve health outcomes for our clients.’

Dr Stafford is also a Director of Dementia Training Australia and an adjunct Senior Lecturer in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at Curtin University.

‘Education and training is really cool, particularly when you get that light bulb moment and you see that you’ve made somebody understand – whether that be an undergraduate student, healthcare professional or somebody you’re counselling at a Home Medicines Review,’ he said.

‘Medication management is just such a challenge, particularly for people who are living at home and still managing their medications themselves. Just being able to make their lives easier and the gratitude that they express, I think is a very rewarding and very exciting part of the career,’ he explained.

The award includes a medallion and certificate, plus a travel grant of $5,000 to attend a pharmacy conference relevant to consultant pharmacy.