Shirley Kelly, Macmillan pharmacist in palliative care, Roxburghe House in Aberdeen

Published: 04/03/2004, Volume II4, No. 5895 Page 34

What does the job involve?

My main focus has been to ensure that people who are discharged from the hospice can do so without anxiety about the level of palliative care they will receive in the community.This has involved creating a network of 15 community pharmacies spread across Tayside.Pharmacists are given specialist training in palliative care and stock essential medicines not widely found in general pharmacies.The extra training also allowed the pharmacists to give patients advice on taking the medicines.

I also teach local medical and pharmacy students, and have a strategic role as part of the Scottish National Pharmacy School special interest group, which looks at national planning and sharing of ideas. I also attend meetings of the Scottish Palliative Care Pharmacists Association every three months.The group works to ensure that pharmacy aspects of palliative care are included as part of national planning.

What is your career path?

I did pre-registration training in Alexandria before moving to Bradford Royal Infirmary on a two-year residency programme. I then worked in Australia and New Zealand for two and a half years, before moving back to Dundee, where I worked in the pharmacy at the teaching hospital. I then took up a joint community post at the local trust clinical pharmacy service at the Roxburghe House hospice. It was one of the best places I had ever worked - it was a nice atmosphere and, compared to working in a hospital where the turnaround of patients has to be very quick, I felt my work was making a difference to patients' lives.So when the Macmillan post came up, I grabbed it.

What aspects of the role do you enjoy?

It is nice when you can play a part in the discharge process so when people go home they feel reassured that they will get support in the community to manage their condition. It can be daunting to be sent home with a large package of medications, so it is good to help people with that - being able to make a real difference to people's quality of life is very satisfying. It is about dealing with the small details; if we can get those right it makes a big difference.

What are the challenges?

Juggling the different operational and strategic roles can be tricky.The biggest challenge is not having enough time to do things as thoroughly as I would like, which happens to a lot of people in healthcare.