Supporting Innovation in Pharmacy for a Healthier Canada

NS expands pharmacy program for mental health

From left: Dalhousie University's Associate Professor Andrea Murphy, Professor David Gardner, Nova Scotia Health Minister Leo Glavine, Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott and MLA Darren Fisher

SEPTEMBER 2017 - Three years after the launch of Nova Scotia’s pilot project called the Bloom Program, the provincial government has agreed to extend funding to grow it across the province.  The Bloom Program uses community pharmacists and pharmacies to improve the well-being of people with mental illness and addictions.

“When we sat down with government and the Nova Scotia Health Authority it couldn’t have gone better,” says Dr. David Gardner, Professor for the Department of Psychiatry and College of Pharmacy at Dalhousie University, and one of the Bloom program developers. “They were impressed with the program and keen on having it continue.”

In fact, the Honourable Leo Glavine in attendance (Mnister of Health and Welness in Nova Scotia at the time), went on to pen an editorial in his local paper fully endorsing the initiative. In the editorial he notes that the Bloom Program “provides the community with an essential service that has been missing up until now. It is another service well suited to re-visioning the purpose of the community pharmacy.”

A comprehensive evaluation of the 27-month demonstration project showed that pharmacists were able to improve or resolve four out of five medication issues among this patient population.  The program was also lauded for increasing access to care, particularly for those living in rural areas. Both physicians and pharmacists liked the enhanced collaboration between professions and wanted to see the program extended, expanded and better supported.

“In the bigger picture, I think it has caused people to look at the role of the community pharmacy differently,” says Gardner. “We are completely giddy that the government is interested in keeping it going.”

Currently 19 pharmacy sites are participating, and Gardner says the goal is to eventually expand to at least 25 before the new year. The Nova Scotia Health Authority is also in the process of creating a new position, for a Bloom Program coordinator.

Read the full evaluation of the program.