Community pharmacy teams can help make life a little easier for you if you care for someone with an illness or disability. This blog talks about the help available and at the end of the article I’ve listed some useful resources for carers and information for pharmacy teams on how they can support carers.
When we talk about carers, we mean anyone who provides unpaid care for a family member, partner or friend who cannot cope without their support due to a health problem or a disability. The term is sometimes confused with a care worker or care assistant but the difference is that a carer is unpaid, whereas a care worker or care assistant is paid for looking after someone.
Research published on the Carers Week website showed that carers rate their pharmacy as the most carer-friendly service across health, social care, work, transport and education.
Ways your pharmacy can help you if you’re a carer
If you let your pharmacy know that you’re a carer they may be able to help make life a little easier for you by making the logistics of getting medication and organising it easier in the following ways.
- Ordering and collecting repeat prescriptions
- Prescription delivery services
- Advice on giving medicines to patients, such as when to give them, how to give them, and what to do if the person you care for has difficulty taking medicines or using devices
- Providing medication in blister packs/Nomads/MDS/dosette trays can help because they take away the need to reorder medication and organise the doses at different times of day. This also means that you’re not necessarily tied to being at home when medication is needed to be taken because the person you care for may be able to take their tablets on their own from the compartments.
- How to store medicines safely
- Using over-the-counter medicines safely
- How to check out of date medicines and disposing of medicines safely at the pharmacy
- Currently Medicines Use Reviews and the New Medicines Service cannot be delivered to carers, unless the patient is also present, though they may be able to help you arrange for a home visit by a domiciliary pharmacist or pharmacy technician commissioned by your local CCG
- Flu vaccinations for carers
- Signposting you to other sources of support for carers
Useful resources for carers
- Carers Trust Guide: Handling and giving medication
- Action for M.E.’s information and support for carers
The Living With M.E. section contains information on working while being a carer, being a young carer, financial support and looking after yourself as a carer.
- Action for M.E.’s guide Caring for somebody with M.E.
- Carers Trust website
- NHS Choices guide to caring, including getting home help
- Public Health England’s A practical guide to healthy caring
- The Children’s Society: Support for young carers
Useful resources for pharmacy teams
- PSNC’s page about supporting carers
- HealthWatch Essex video: Understanding the everyday experience of unpaid carers
- TheLearningPharmacy.com: Supporting Carers
- NHS England Commitment to Carers
- RPS Info about domiciliary (home visit) medicines management pharmacists and pharmacy technicians