One of the biggest challenges facing carers is medication management, especially when the need of the person they are caring for are complex. It’s easy to forget or accidentally double up on medicines, especially if you are taking multiple medicines and at different times of the day.
Your community pharmacist is an easily accessible source of help and support and one of the ways your pharmacy can support you is through the use of a Dose Administration Aid (DAA). This can help make taking medicines safer by ensuring the medicines are taken at the right time and in the correct dose. A DAA provides an easy visual cue so that you can see at a glance what has been taken. Unlike a bottle of pills, a DAA cannot be accidentally spilled or changed without it being evident. This makes it easy to monitor medicine compliance. A DAA is also useful if your loved one goes to hospital, providing clear information about what medications are being taken.
Unfortunately, non-adherence to medicines is quite common in people with chronic illnesses, whether intentionally or unintentionally. This can lead to a decrease in the effectiveness of the treatment plan and the doctor may increase dosages unnecessarily. This can be potentially dangerous. It can also result in increased hospitalisations.
Being able to identify non-compliance with a treatment plan allows the
underlying issue to be addressed, whether it’s forgetfulness, misunderstanding, concerns about side effects, or possibly difficulty swallowing pills. A discussion with your pharmacist can help identify
strategies that might help.
Many patients may experience issues when taking medication, for example stomach upsets when taking oral medications, they may dislike the taste of a certain medicines, have difficulty swallowing pills, or have an allergy or sensitivity to a certain ingredient such as gluten. Compounding pharmacies work with your doctor to customise solutions for specific patient needs which can be life-changing for some patients.
As a carer you may also be responsible for managing your family member’s medical appointments.
Speak to your community pharmacist about a Prescription Reminder Service. This enables the pharmacy to contact you to remind you that a prescription needs to be filled so that you don’t run out.
Another way your community pharmacy can assist you in your role as carer is through a MedsCheck, which is an in-pharmacy medicine review. This service aims to identify any problems your familymember may be experiencing with their medications, for example side effects or drug interactions. It’s a great way for you as the carer and your family member to ask questions, solve problems and learn more about how to take and store medicines effectively.
Some of the other services offered by your community pharmacy that you may find useful, include:
• Diabetes Medscheck – if your family-member suffers from diabetes, your community pharmacist can also offer a Diabetes Medscheck which aims to optimise their use of medicine
• Blood pressure and blood glucose monitoring
• Many pharmacies offer home delivery services, which are especially useful for aged or immobile patients who may find it difficult to come into the pharmacy
• A range of mobility aids to assist in recovery from disease or injury as well as walkers and rollators to assist with balance