The main issues
Many or most of Manchester’s estimated 58,000 carers visit their pharmacist, either for the person they care for and/or for themselves. Pharmacies are ideally placed to identify carers, and to link them to the information and support available. This enables carers to cope better and reduces the likelihood of carers in crisis.
NHS England say that 70% of carers come into contact with health professionals – yet health professionals only identify one in ten carers. 66% of carers feel that healthcare staff do not help to signpost them to relevant information or support. When information is given, it tends to come from charities and support groups.
So there is a big opportunity for pharmacy teams to help identify carers and signpost them to the information and support they need. Community pharmacy teams have always provided support for carers via the wide range of services they provide. Services such as practical assistance to order and collect prescriptions from GP practices, delivery of medicines to people’s homes and helping people to manage their medicines use, via multi-compartment compliance aids, as well as signposting to support organisations, have often been provided, without considering whether the person is a carer. However, these services can have a big impact in helping carers. So pharmacies have a key role to identify carers, tell them about the services available in the pharmacy – and signpost them to support organisations.
What’s in place already
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Carers Charter from Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, are just two of the commitments being made to carers under health/care devolution
What you need to know
1.6 million people visit their pharmacy every day. And there are more than 6 million carers nationally. By identifying carers and giving them the right information, your pharmacy can not only enable better patient care but also help carers to get support when they need it. It’s important to remember carers are across the age range, including some young carers who will be collecting prescriptions for mum or dad.
Things you should or could be doing
(From The Carer-Friendly pharmacy pilot – 3rd November 2014 to 28th February 2015, PSNC. The project tested the concept of a ‘Carer-Friendly Pharmacy’.) A Carer Friendly Pharmacy is one where:
- all staff are trained to be carer aware, sensitive to carers’ needs and the challenges they face and have developed enhanced communication skills to enable them to engage effectively with carers
- all staff are pro-active in identifying, referring and supporting carers
- the pharmacy identifies a member of the team who takes on the role of Carers Champion along with a deputy – their role is to lead and facilitate carer referrals, act as a contact point for external agencies such as the local carers centre and GP practices to support a multi-disciplinary approach and to maintain stocks of resources
- posters and/or related materials make it clear to the customer that the pharmacy is carer-friendly and encourage them to self-identify; NB. It is acknowledged that displaying materials will be easier in larger pharmacies and Healthy Living Pharmacies where there is a dedicated notice board to display such information
- the pharmacy offers a range of services, such as Medicines Use Reviews (MURs) and prescription collection and delivery, in a manner that is relevant to the carer
- with the carer’s consent, the pharmacy will refer the carer to their local carers services and/or their GP.