Today saw the official launch of ‘A Carers Guide to Managing Medicines’ bilingual booklet in Flint, North Wales. It is the first of its kind specifically aimed at unpaid carers to help and support them in their daily lives, and will be the core of a campaign throughout November in all community pharmacies in North Wales.

Every day thousands of people are regularly handling and giving medication to a family member, friend or neighbour because they have difficulties doing it themselves due to frailty, disability, mental health issues or ill health. 

This can be a huge responsibility for many unpaid carers who, without the right support or advice, are often unsure how best to do this safely. Carers Trust Wales, Community Pharmacy Wales, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, their colleagues across North Wales and carers themselves are working together to provide support and assist in medicines safety. 

The booklet will be available in all North Wales community pharmacies and encourages all carers to make themselves known to their local pharmacy, especially young carers, so that they can get the help and support they need. A special consent form has also been included to support the process.

Stephen Morris, a local carer from North East Wales Carers Information Service (NEWCIS) reflects the feeling of many carers when asked what the initiative means to him. He says “My mother has very complex health needs and struggles to keep up with the many different medications she takes. In the past I have not known who to turn to if mum forgot to take one dose of medication or if I was worried some of the medication shouldn’t be taken together. The Carers Medicines Management booklet is written in a really clear and simple way and it has given me the confidence and knowledge to deal with mum’s medications as well as showing me how I can talk to a pharmacist if I have any concerns. I‘m sure lots of other carers will benefit from the booklet too”. 

Gill Winter, Development Manager at Carers Trust Wales, said “it’s time we started to really and truly acknowledge the role of unpaid carers. The tasks that many have to deal with on a daily basis can equal that of trained nursing professionals. 

“We need to start making sure they are as involved and informed as patients - especially where responsibilities around medication care are laid at their door. Creating this medicines management booklet is a step in that direction.”

The booklet is being launched as part of a local Pharmacy Public health campaign which is being supported by Betsi Cadwaladr Local Health Board with funding made available as part of the Carers Strategies (Wales) Measure.

Judy Henley, Director at Community Pharmacy Wales welcomes the move. She says "community pharmacies are regularly seeing carers and helping them with medicines advice for the people for whom they care. This useful booklet brings much of this advice together in one place for the first time. There are some NHS services available in pharmacies with specific arrangements designed for carers at crucial times for them. So at the moment carers can get free NHS flu jabs in pharmacies without an appointment and so saving some of their precious respite time to get to the GP. 

“And at that often traumatic time when their cared for comes out of  hospital, the carer can themselves access a special medicines reconciliation service in their pharmacy to make sure the patient's medicines when they were in hospital are matched with those they were on before they went in and before their next prescription at home." 

A supporting statement provided by Executive Medical Director, Professor Matt Makin summarises the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Boards commitment to the campaign, saying "We are very pleased to support such an important scheme as we know across North Wales there are carers of all ages going that extra mile each day to help loved ones and friends. This scheme will help take the pressure off carers who have to handle medication on a regular basis for the person they look after by giving them much improved medicine management support.”