The relationship between palliative care and community pharmacy was the focus of a one-day NSW Community Pharmacy Palliative Care Workshop held today in Sydney by the Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC).

Brian spoke as a consumer about his experience of supporting his mother to die at home. After describing a frustrating, emotional and at times seemingly chaotic interaction with the health care system Brian offered several recommendations for improvement including improved information flow, improved access to information about medications, and information on how and where to access less commonly stocked drugs.

Professor Jane Phillips from UTS spoke about the current policy context of palliative care and noted some of the successful federally-funded initiatives including PCC4U, PCOC, PEPA, CareSearch and Decision Assist. She noted the important shift in the evidence base for medications that is occurring in palliative care, noting “we need to make sure that palliative care moves with the evidence base.”

Paul Tait from SA Health reported on a 2012 study of community pharmacy that indicated on average pharmacies stocked only 3 of 13 identified medications, and more than 10% held none of the 13 identified medications. Some 13% of respondents were unaware whether they had supplied medications to a palliative care patient in the last year. This led SA Health to issue a prescribed medications list to be stocked by all pharmacies.

Participants traveled from around the state to attend the workshop and offer insights into possible systems improvement.

The workshop responds to findings by the 2017 Palliative Care Roundtables that consumers had experienced some difficulties in accessing important end of life medications in the community.

Feedback from the workshop and other interviews will help the CEC to develop and pilot interventions and resources in collaboration with clinicians over the next 12 months, ultimately with the aim of improving the relationship between community pharmacy and palliative care and improving the access by consumers to medication at end of life.

Pic: Professor Jane Phillips speaking at the NSW Community Pharmacy Palliative Care Workshop.