The Barbadian pharmacist has earned a reputation for the accurate dispensing of medicines. But local pharmacies do a lot more than that. Local pharmacies offer several health services that many of us aren’t aware of.
For example, local pharmacies promote health and wellbeing and provide access to the benefits of the Barbados Drug Service programme, improve sexual health to some extent, help with weight loss.
Pharmacists also make interventions that can save you a trip to your GP, or help you to make healthy lifestyle changes.
In Barbados, most persons are within a 30-minute car ride or walk of a community pharmacy. This means that Barbadians have quick and easy access to a pharmacist who’s an expert in the safe use of medicines, and must be registered with the Barbados Pharmacy Council before they can practise.
The Barbadian pharmacist is readily available for advice and you don’t need an appointment; you can just pop in or call, but actually visiting is a better way to get your questions answered.
Pharmacies can also offer anonymity, as most pharmacies now have counselling areas for private consultation, which some patients may prefer.
Pharmacists are trained experts in the use of medicines. They can advise you on the safe use of prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
Many pharmacies are open until late, which is useful if you start feeling unwell at 6 pm and the local doctors are all shut.
Many pharmacies are fully computerised and because of that extensive database can give advice on your medicines.
The Barbadian pharmacist is now capable of providing a Medicines Use Review. In fact there are a number of local pharmacies that do offer this service, albeit under the initials APJ (all part of the job).
If you regularly collect medicines from your pharmacy, the pharmacist may ask you how you’ve been getting on with the medicine. If you’re having problems, they can offer advice or advise you to see your doctor if necessary.
The MUR is a detailed chat with your pharmacist about the medicines you take you can talk about what you’re taking, when you should be taking it, and any side effects you might be concerned about. It’s especially useful for people who take a number of medicines.
If your medicine is out of date, unwanted, or some of it is left over that you are not taking, do not throw it away yourself, but instead take it to your pharmacy to be disposed of safely.
Never throw away medicine in the trash, burn it or flush it down the toilet, as this can harm the environment.
To get the best from your prescribed medicines, take them as prescribed. It is OK to ask the doctor about the medicines that are being prescribed for you or to tell them that you are no longer taking them. Unused medicines are a waste of the Governments resources.
Pharmacies can help with a range of common conditions and minor injuries, such as aches and pains, uncomplicated cystitis, colds and skin rashes.
If you have one of these common conditions, your pharmacist can give advice and medicines, if appropriate. Your pharmacist is trained to also tell you if you need to see a doctor.
The week of September 15 to 21st is our Pharmacy Week. Our theme is “KNOW BEFORE YOU GO”. You can ask your pharmacist for an MUR.
Here are a few other ways our local pharmacies help:
Emergency contraception: if you need the morning-after pill. This can work for up to 72 hours after sex, but the sooner you take it the more likely it will work.
Blood Pressure readings.
Blood Sugar readings.
Blood Cholesterol readings.
Pregnancy tests. Most pharmacies provide pregnancy test kits.
Treating minor wounds and offering dressing services.
Connecting you with dietitians.
Finding a doctor for you and your family.
Connecting you with a dentist.
Advising when you need a Chiropodist and finding one for you.
Enabling you to find an eye doctor and sometimes making the appointment for you.
Finding difficult to get medicines, some pharmacies may even import them on your behalf.
The private pharmacy is increasingly supporting people to improve their health and wellbeing. They also support self care, so that people can look after themselves and their families. They are counseling patients, which makes it easier for the patients to adhere to their medication instructions which can significantly reduce unnecessary emergency room visit and hospitalisation when patients skip their medication.
The local pharmacist becomes a care giver at times contacting patients who do not refill their prescriptions on time. Some pharmacists even drop off medications at patient home, especially the elderly who may not be able to visit the pharmacy. Pharmacists also visit patients at times if they have been hospitalised. This gives patients a sense that someone is looking out for them.
Pharmacists are educators; some pharmacists are trained in diabetes care. They can offer information on Diabetes, the proper way to take the diabetes medication. Informing patients about life style changes, diet and proper foot care.
This support by your pharmacist can create positive outcomes such as:
1) There can be decrease in medication errors.
2) Increased patient compliance.
3) Better chronic disease management.
4) Stronger Pharmacist- patient relationship.
5) Decreased long term cost of medical care.
Pharmacists also prepare compounded medicines, for example, they compound dermatological preparations for certain skin diseases.
Pharmacists provide information on the correct usage of over the counter drugs. For example, some cough syrups have sugar so they are better able to assist diabetics’ patients to make the right choice.
Pharmacists are fitness advisor, promotes exercising, eating more sensible and in doing so they will adapt a healthy life style. As it make no sense taking medications and not changing one’s life style.
The equation is the patient, lifestyle changes, diet and medications, these all go together for the better management of their health conditions which will produce a healthy society.
If you are seeking information about vitamins, and other OTC products, use our “pharmacy week” to get in the habit of supporting and asking for help in making your healthcare choices.
After all pharmacy is more than a prescription.