This is an impromptu blog: I’ve been meaning to do a few recently but haven’t managed it, but I wanted to share these thoughts before they drift away. They’re not directly pharmacy related but have some lessons for us nonetheless.
We moved house a year ago to Yateley which although has a population leaning towards the older side, has some awesome schools for Little’un. After moving we went round the seven other properties in our close and introduced ourselves, but aimed to get everyone round to us for a BBQ once we’d settled. The weather never let us, so we said that New Year drinks would be good, but then chicken pox got in the way. So today we finally had the neighbours round for drinks and nibbles; eight people (youngest >60) from five of the seven households showed up and a couple of things really struck me that I want to share.
- They didn’t eat much, despite the huge spread, but after 45 minutes I had to pop to the shop to buy much more wine
- The oldest frail guy, who lives alone, was the wittiest
- The dour Scottish chap who talks little outside had the best stories
- Three households had at least one person who was effectively houseboud through illness or age, and their lives run on the help from unpaid carers (mostly family)
- When one chap starts drawing his pension next year he automatically loses the carers allowance he currently recieves: he reckons they’ll be financially worse off from this despite nothing in their life actually changing apart from the date on the calendar
But the most stricking thing? Social isolation is a killer for these people. Few of them go out much, and when they do it’s not far and locally there’s no longer much for them to access despite the population demographic. What really hammered this home was that two of the households had not even spoken to each other properly in the seven years they’d lived on the same 200 metre strip of road.
So what’s this got to do with pharmacy? Well it wasn’t easy hiding my profession and so I’m now versed on all their ailments and therapies, and this is key: they all get their medicines delivered from the local pharmacy and none of them have spoken to a pharmacist since this service was started.
It’s known that these patients may have higher needs and there’s already ideas around how pharmacists can support their care; what I’d ask is that if you’re a pharmacist who provides a medicines delivery service to housebound patients, please reflect on how long it’s been since you last saw these people or even simply spoke to them (and remember from above that they are people, not just ‘patients’); maybe it’s time to pick up the phone?