Rishveen Sidhu, Care Homes Pharmacist
Rishveen Sidhu, Care Homes Pharmacist at Salford Royal
What is your role? (Job/Team/Department)
Care Homes Pharmacist.
Where are you based?
SRFT Community – Salford Care Homes Medical Practice.
What are the main duties you do as part of your role?
I work as part of the unique multidisciplinary team at Salford Care Homes Medical Practice, which is a GP Practice that looks after the majority of care home residents in Salford.
Working with a team of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, my role is to ensure that all residents have holistic structured medication reviews. As an independent prescriber, I am able to implement changes that are required to patients’ medication regimes; reducing polypharmacy and providing advice and follow up, as necessary.
Another key role is supporting residents to transfer safely between care settings. All new residents, as well as those discharged from secondary care, have a medicines reconciliation and clinical review carried out to ensure residents receive the correct medicines, with appropriate monitoring and follow up in place. As the Practice is part of Salford Care Organisation, we have strong links with the clinical pharmacy teams across primary and secondary care.
I also deal with queries around compliance. I often have to find alternative preparations to aid medicine administration, as well as providing advice on covert administration, where appropriate.
What attracted you to a career in science?
I had a great chemistry teacher for GCSE and A levels and this allowed me to really enjoy chemistry. I knew I wanted to do something that involved chemistry and working in a public-facing role – so that led me to pharmacy.
What has your main role been during the COVID-19 pandemic – and how has that role changed to accommodate the demands generated by the pandemic?
The pandemic has brought about many challenges to all healthcare professionals. In order to reduce the spread of Covid-19 infection in Care Homes, the clinical team at the Practice suspended routine visits to the Care Homes for face to face reviews, unless it was deemed absolutely necessary for an individual’s care. This meant that I had to adapt how I completed my structured medication reviews and I found completing video consultations with care homes residents initially quite challenging. However, as the pandemic continued, I found residents were glad of someone to talk to about their medicines, even if it remained virtually rather than in person.
In the early stages of the pandemic, there were national shortages of some commonly prescribed palliative care medicines. This led to discussions within the clinical teams and local hospice pharmacists about appropriate alternative medicines that could be prescribed, to ensure residents’ needs continued to be met.
To ensure residents received palliative medicines as quickly as possible, I liaised with the Pharmacy Department at Salford Royal and together, we set up an Urgent Palliative Care Medicine supply route; which allowed the Pharmacy to dispense the medicines as a matter of priority and, with the support of the Blood Bikers and NHS Volunteers, these important medicines reached the Care Homes in a very short timeframe.
During the initial months of the pandemic guidance and advice was changing on a regular basis. I supported our clinicians at the practice to ensure prescribers were up-to-date with the latest medicines-related information. Together with my pharmacist colleagues, we have developed Covid-19 specific guidance to support our clinicians, for example developing a pathway to safely prescribe dexamethasone to residents diagnosed with severe COVID-19 infection and require community management.
More recently, I have played a key role in the planning, implementation and delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines to all of our care home residents. The Covid-19 vaccine roll-out in Care Homes was very successful and I am proud to say that all of our care home residents in Salford were vaccinated with their first dose by the 22nd January.
The pandemic is still presenting new challenges. As healthcare workers, we need to be adaptable and flexible to overcome the new ways of working and challenges we are all facing as a result of the pandemic.
What are your thoughts on the role of women in science?
I believe having more women take up leadership roles within science is rather important, as it will inspire the next generation of scientists.