Article by Francesca Aaen, Independent Pharmacist Consultant and Pharmacist Prescriber
Ten years on from the launch of the first Dementia Strategy by the Scottish Government, the second refresh of the document has now been published. The focus firmly remains on delivering timely, person-centred and consistent care and support for every person in Scotland living with dementia, from diagnosis to end of life, in any setting. The greater emphasis on primary and community care in this strategy is an opportunity for pharmacists and their teams working in the community and in the GP practice setting, as well as in acute and long-term NHS care, to contribute to safe and effective care for their patients living with dementia, most of whom will take medication and access pharmacy services on a regular basis.
Alzheimer’s Scotland’s ‘8 pillars model of integrated community support’ is integral to the quality care detailed in the strategy¹ and is a framework that pharmacists working in all sectors can use to add value to the care they deliver. You may work in a pharmacy at the centre of a Dementia Friendly Community or create a dementia friendly environment in your workplace. You might support appropriate prescribing and review of medication from diagnosis to end of life or link with the Dementia Practice Co-ordinator, who is at the centre of care for the person living with dementia. Or maybe you support care home staff to deliver safe medicines administration or signpost carers to support services within their community. In whatever setting you work, all pharmacists and their support staff have a role to play.
Dementia awareness in pharmacy teams has vastly increased over the ten years since Scotland’s Dementia Strategy was first published, but there is still a way to go. Every member of a pharmacy team in any setting is likely to have contact with people living with dementia or their family or carers on a regular basis. Dementia skills and awareness need to be further enhanced to meet the needs of a growing population, more and more of whom are being supported to live independently in the community, and of those who care for them.
The NES Promoting Excellence framework² and the NES pack on Pharmaceutical Care of People with Dementia³ are excellent starting points to develop awareness and skills. All of the pharmacy team including pharmacy students, pre-registration pharmacists, delivery drivers and technicians should be at least ‘dementia informed’, but any staff who have substantial contact with people with dementia, their families and carers in any setting can use the online resources to become ‘dementia skilled’.
Have a think about how frequently you or your team come into contact with people living with dementia and their carers. You may be surprised!
1. Scottish Government. Scotland’s National Dementia Strategy 2017-2020.
2. The Knowledge Network. Dementia Promoting Excellence. http://www.knowledge.scot.nhs.uk/home/portals-and-topics/dementia-promoting-excellence.aspx
3. NHS Education for Scotland. Dementia – Pharmaceutical Care of People with Dementia. Edinburgh