Jess Hibbert spends a lot of time convincing people to do things they don’t want to.
The mental health pharmacist, who looks after 80 patients across four inpatient wards at Bendigo Health, says a lack of compliance with medication is something she works through on a daily basis.
“Some patients don’t like the side effects and don’t understand that a medication needs to be taken consistently to be effective. When they feel better patients tend to stop taking the medication and can spiral out of control quite quickly,” she said.
Other patients are reluctant to take prescribed medication.
“It’s hard because we’re working in the space of dual diagnosis as a lot of people do have a mental health issue and substance misuse issue and they are interlinked. We have to try and create supportive withdrawal measures,” she said.
“The patients know the importance of their medications but some people with bi polar for example, they like being in their manic state and don’t understand why we don’t want them to be in it.”
Cost could also be a factor in compliance, Jess said.
“Every time a packet of tablets is dispensed it costs money and some feel if it’s not working for them they would rather save their money. For some patients, ongoing medicines can become quite expensive,” she said.
It is Jess’ job to understand the person, their background and their current state in order to help find a solution for the patient.
From new Mums suffering postnatal depression to adults with opioid addictions, Jess works with a myriad of complex of characters and conditions.
“You’ve got to have some sort of rapport with them to get the right information. Really I’m looking at medication but I need to understand everything else,” she said.
Jess – a pharmacist at Bendigo Health for almost 10 years – applied for the role in mental health when it was created 18 months ago.
Since then she’s undertaken a Dual Diagnosis course and is studying a graduate certificate in mental health in order to get a broader understanding of the people she is working with.
“It’s in my bones. I feel that mental health patients and their medications are really important. I’m really excited to just keep learning and stretch myself,” she said.
Bendigo Health Pharmacy Director Paul O’Brien said having a dedicated pharmacist on inpatient mental health wards has improved work flow, discharge times and medication safety.
“Having a pharmacist to troubleshoot problems and provide advice to doctors and nurses in real time has really improved patient-centered care,” he said.
For more in our Hidden Healthcare series, click the link below.