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Medical partnership heralds new dawn for Salvos' Sunrise Centre

Medical partnership heralds new dawn for Salvos' Sunrise Centre

Medical partnership heralds new dawn for Salvos' Sunrise Centre

4 October 2017

Some of the staff at Darwin's Sunrise Centre are receiving training on medication support for clients through the centre's new partnership with the Country Wellness Pharmaceutical Group. 

By Simone Worthing

The Salvation Army’s Sunrise Centre in Darwin, in partnership with the Country Wellness Pharmaceutical Group, has set up new medication management processes and a medication counselling service for clients.

“Country Wellness wanted to provide pharmaceutical support as part of their social responsibilities and focus on improving medication safety in the community, for both agencies and individuals,” said Lieutenant Mark Smalley, Manager of the Sunrise Centre.

“They also wanted to open up professional development opportunities for their junior pharmacists in a wide range of settings. Many of our clients are on multiple medications, so partnering with Country Wellness was beneficial for everyone."

The Sunrise Centre is a purpose-built facility that runs two programs; one for men and women experiencing homelessness, and a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. Those from all walks of life and backgrounds, including lawyers, police and business people, access the centre.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 65 per cent of the clients.

The centre maintains a strong family atmosphere, with client facilities including an art room, computer space, swimming pool and vegetable garden.

Sam Keitaanpaa from the Country Wellness Pharmaceutical Group originally contacted The Salvation Army to offer their assistance.

“I had been looking at areas where pharmacists could support community health services and help meet their needs in non-traditional and mutually beneficial ways,” said Sam.

“After speaking with Captain Richard Parker (Salvation Army Regional Officer in the Northern Territory) and Mark, we have been able to provide a service, with opportunities for ongoing expansion and support, that will help vulnerable people integrate back into society with restored dignity and hope.”

After doing an audit at the Sunrise Centre to assess the way staff were carrying out medication support for clients, Country Wellness made some recommendations to Lieut Smalley and his team.

“We’ve undertaken the implementation of a new medication chart with accompanying forms – used by the Commonwealth Department of Health – as a trial and Sam is helping us write policies and procedures around that trial and extending their support,” said Lieut Smalley, who is also a qualified nurse.

“They have trained our staff on how to use the forms, provided the forms free of charge, and will also develop flow charts on using medication and associated charts.”

Country Wellness will also provide training for staff around types of medications, and will run workshops for clients to assist them to better understand how to use their medications. This will include assisting them when they transition from the Sunrise Centre through their local pharmacy.

“This is important for us because when a client leaves we want them to continue to improve their health and wellbeing,” emphasised Lieut Smalley.

Country Wellness also provides oversight and support in assisting the Sunrise Centre to maintain compliance with The Northern Territory Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act which regulates the possession, supply or administration of drugs and poisons in the territory.

“This has reduced stress on staff as the new charts are much simpler to use and they are able to oversee the clients’ medications much more effectively,” said Lieut Smalley.

Medical support

Through Country Wellness’ medical contacts, the Arafura Medical Clinic in nearby Palmerston has also begun supporting the Sunrise Centre, coming out to see clients each week.

“With the client’s consent, medical information is relayed to our case management team who can then provide continuity of care,” explained Lieutenant Smalley. “Referrals to specialists are also made.”

“Any clients who need medication or need their medication reviewed, can be seen fairly quickly by a doctor. There is better follow-up, better health and wellbeing for our clients and good relationships are being built.”

Junior doctors also assist at these visits, giving them exposure to some of the social and health issues faced by people experiencing homelessness or battling addictions.

The Sunrise Centre has also recently added a full-time psychologist to its staff.



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