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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : October 2006
professional pharmacy professional updates ECENT research has highlighted the devastating consequences for carers of people with serious mental ill- ness when they discontinue their med- ication and subsequently relapse. The Keeping Care Complete survey canvassed nearly 1,000 carers from Aus- tralia, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK and US. Survey reveals carer’s plight R ‘This survey confirms that appropriate use of medication underpins recovery from these illnesses, and emphasises the short- and long-term quality of life gains not only for the consumer but also the carer, from finding and staying on the right one,’ said Margaret Springgay, executive director, Mental Illness Fellow- ship of Australia. The research shows that relapse has widespread impacts beyond the individ- ual, placing great strain on those caring for people with mental illnesses like schiz- ophrenia and bipolar disorder. Significantly, the survey shows 96 per cent of Australian carers whose family member had relapsed, said it had affected their own life substantially, compared to only 61 per cent of the global sample. Respondents also believe relapse drasti- cally reduced the chance of improve- ments to their loved one’s overall quality of life and that medication was pivotal to any plan for long-term wellness. Some 89 per cent of local respondents said relapse had damaged their own men- tal and physical health, and 90 per cent are also concerned for their family mem- ber’s wellbeing. Fear for their own safety and financial impacts are other effects of relapse on Australian carers, 42 per cent of whom spend 20 hours a week or more caring for their loved one. Ms Springgay said carers are hurting from problems endemic to the Australian system. These include a lack of co-ordi- nation in treatment plans at the point of discharge from hospital, a drastic shortage in subsidised housing, few supported work programs and limited availability of psy- chosocial rehabilitation. ‘The failure to have a holistic mental health service can see many people dis- charged into the community without the support needed to keep them well,’ she said. ‘The carers’ perspective confirms that these people are vulnerable to relapse and that, without community support, it is virtually impossible for them to reclaim their lives,’ she said. Discontinuation of medication was a key factor in relapse, with 94 per cent of Australian respondents reporting that a relapse occurred when their family mem- ber stopped taking their medication. In 86 per cent of these cases, relapse resulted in hospitalisation for the family member, versus only 69 per cent of international cases. ¦ (AMD) on patients’ quality of life and psy- chological wellbeing is comparable to that of cancer or coronary heart disease, according to a White Paper released by the AMD Alliance International. The diagnosis of AMDand the threat of blind- ness also increases depression and the risk of suicide. Macular degeneration linked to depression A T HE impact of vision loss due to age- related macular degeneration also about mental health and quality of life, which is why identifying AMD in its earliest stages is critical. People, especially those over 50, must have regular eye examinations. The Macular Degeneration (MD) Foundation in Australia and beyondblue: the national depression initiative, have joined forces to highlight the significance of depression associated with AMD. Macular degeneration is this country’s leading cause of blindness, affecting an estimated 800,000 Australians, but the dire consequences can be mitigated by early detection, diagnosis and access to care. ‘AMD is not just about vision loss. It’s Furthermore, health policy makers must acknowledge that quality of life is an important patient outcome and timely access to treatments and support services is critical to limit the impact of AMD,’ said Leslie Lofthouse, chairman of the MD Foundation in Australia. ‘Access to treatments and support tools can enhance quality of life and improve independence for patients. A good life with AMD is very possible, with the right support at the right time,’ she said. For more information on depression, anxiety and related disorders, available treatments and where to get help go to www.beyondblue.org.au or call the beyondblue info line 1300 22 4636. 22 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL 87 OCTOBER 2006 Footballer recruits pharmacy students FL footballer and pharmacist Dar- ryl Wakelin has been recruited by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia to encourage more rural and regional stu- dents to choose pharmacy as a career. The Guild’s campaign aims to address the shortage of pharmacists in rural areas by encouraging students from these areas to study pharmacy and take up rural employment after graduation. Mr Wakelin is best known as a defender for Port Adelaide, but grew up on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and is involved in the ownership of three phar- macies in the Northern Territory. His message to students is that phar- macy is a much broader and more inter- esting career than is often anticipated, especially in rural settings. ¦ Thirty scholarships at $10,000 per year are available to support rural students study pharmacy. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students may also be eligi- ble for scholarships of $15,000 per year. ¦