Pharmacists now have the opportunity to get dementia specific training through a new online course developed by Dementia Training Australia.
The Dementia Friendly Pharmacy online course, available free via the DTA website, explores how to become a dementia friendly pharmacy, including training for staff and assessment of the physical environment.
The course also explores medications commonly prescribed for dementia, including risks, side effects and how they may interact with other prescribed medications.
Based on the premise that community pharmacists are the health professionals most commonly visited by people with dementia and family carers, the course explores the often overlooked role of community pharmacies as a source of dementia information and support.
DTA Director and course developer Andrew Stafford says Australians visit their community pharmacy an estimated 14 times a year.
“Due to the increased burden of medical conditions and medications experienced by people living with dementia, they and their carers visit community pharmacies more frequently than average,” Dr Stafford said.
He says pharmacists are a valuable point of contact for advice about dementia, and can play a role in easing some of the stress carers often experience.
They can also make sure the pharmacy environment is responsive to people with dementia and help with the provision of medication management services.
“With 70 per cent of people living with dementia now living in the community, pharmacies are in a position to really make a difference to the level of support available,” Dr Stafford said.
DTA is working in partnership with the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) to upskill Australian pharmacists in dementia care.
The online course builds on a collaboration between DTA and PSA which saw the delivery of face-to-face workshops for pharmacists across the country.
PGA has developed two online training modules to improve understanding of dementia care among pharmacists and pharmacy assistants, complementing DTA’s more advanced course. The training modules and the DTA course can be accessed via PGA’s online learning platform GuildEd.