Carers and pharmacy

Lindsay Pic Nov2013 (1)By Lindsay Lockhart, Pharmacy Development Co-ordinator (Scotland)

I am delighted to have been asked to blog about what pharmacy can do/does to support carers.

Since 2012 Carers Trust Scotland has taken forward the Carers Trust Scotland Pharmacy Project, which was developed to; raise awareness of carers amongst pharmacists; help identify and increase the level of self-identification by people who have a caring role; and increase the number of carers aware of specialist carer support available in their local community.

The main focus of activity is the ‘Carer Friendly Pharmacy Project’ which aims to increase the identification and support of unpaid carers within primary care and community settings so that carers receive support before they reach crisis point. This fits incredibly well with Carers’ Week 2015’s theme of ‘Building Carer Friendly Communities’ – communities which support carers to look after their loved ones, while at the same time recognising they are individuals with needs of their own.

The Carer Friendly Pharmacy Project has been built around the accessibility of community pharmacies, the frequency with which many carers visit their local pharmacy and the supportive and professional relationship many carers already have with their community pharmacy team. The Project is based on an existing pilot led and co-ordinated by Carers Trust in England with funding provided by the Department of Health as part of the implementation of the national Carers Strategy.  During the planning phase, the pilot brought together Carers Trust, local carers services providers, carers, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, a GP Champion from the Royal College of GPs, the Centre for Pharmacy Post-Graduate Education, Carers UK, pharmacists, pharmacy assistants, and researchers from the University of Leeds.

A Carer Friendly Pharmacy is one where all staff are trained to be carer aware, sensitive to carers’ needs and are able to engage effectively and knowledgeably with carers. The Project will provide all pharmacy staff including pharmacists, technicians and counter assistants, with the skills to identify and support carers through the range of services available. This will involve setting up carer pathways including prescription collection and delivery, the Minor Ailment Service, the Chronic Medication Service, medicine reviews and the disposal of unwanted or out of date medication.

In addition, all pharmacy staff will be encouraged to signpost carers to the range of services available to them through the Carers Trust network of carers centres in a manner which is relevant to their needs and acceptable to them.

Lots of work is happening across the country. For example, NHS Forth Valley teamed up with Carers Trust Scotland, Falkirk & Clackmannanshire Carers’ Centre and Stirling Carers’ Centre to reach out to carers within the health board area who have not accessed support from local carers’ centres.

The 76 community pharmacists located in NHS Forth Valley received resource packs, display materials, case studies and background information about carers and how carers can access help which they so badly need. The community pharmacists are encouraged to work alongside their local carers’ centre by promoting Carers Week and engaging with carers.

A pre-registration pharmacy student also attended at an open event for carers in Alloa, displaying resources including information on the Minor Ailment Service, Chronic Medication Service, healthy living information and public health campaigns.

The activity in Carers Week is the springboard for future activity – NHS Forth Valley will continue to liaise and engage with carer support organisations to develop further opportunities for collaborative working in identifying and supporting carers through the community pharmacy network.

It is my hope that pharmacists across Scotland will be interested in becoming a Carer Friendly Pharmacy and if anyone would like to learn more please get in touch with me on llockhart@carers.org.

With grateful thanks to everyone who has helped to ‘Build Carer Friendly Communities’ in NHS Forth Valley and to the Project Funders – The Moffat Charitable Trust and Scottish Government.

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