We are very fortunate in Scotland to have excellent healthcare, free of charge. If there is evidence that a tablet is safe and will improve your health, relieve your pain, reduce your risk of a heart attack, at a reasonable cost to the NHS, you will be offered a prescription for it. Which is great, until you get to the point where you feel like you are taking more tablets than cornflakes at breakfast time!
Please ask if you would like support to take your medication as prescribed. It isn’t a sign that you are old or getting a bit dottled if you admit that sometimes you forget to take a tablet.
There are many ways we can help:
- Simplifying your timings – it could be that you are taking medication at 4 or 5 separate times each day, when it could be perfectly fine for you to take them altogether, or just twice daily.
- Make the labels easier to read – larger text for example.
- Work with your doctor to make the directions more straight forward. “Take ONE tablet up to THREE times a day if your knee is sore.” is much better than “As directed”.
- Give you a personalised chart of your medication to refer to each day, that reminds you which tablets you take when.
- Give you personalised, computer generated, “tick charts” each month, so you can tick that you have taken each tablet. They have 28 columns, with the date at the top of each one, and 4 rows by the name of each drug, so it can be ticked at Breakfast, Lunch, Tea and Bedtime, if necessary.
- Work with your doctor to review your medication – could some of them be safely stopped?
- We do stock boxes that you can fill with your medication each week. We don’t recommend them for everyone because the best practice is to keep your tablets in the labelled pack until you take them. Please ask for advice before buying a medication box – sometimes it is the best option for you but sometimes we can suggest alternatives.
- We know the tablets will be fine until their expiry date if they stay in the original packaging. As soon as they are popped out it is an informed guess that they are OK for a week, or a month. Some medicines go soggy very quickly when exposed to the humidity in the air, some in just a few days. Some medicines have to be protected from light to stop them deteriorating, becoming ineffective or harmful.
- It is much easier and safer for someone to work out what medication you are on if it is in labelled boxes. All those white pills look very similar! For example: a doctor doing a home visit, or an ambulance tech trying to work out what is wrong with you, or the nurse admitting you to a ward, or the pharmacist at your holiday resort making an emergency supply.
- Once the tablets are popped out into a medication box it is hard to remember which one is taken before food, which one has to be swallowed whole, which is dissolved in water before taking, etc. They become quite anonymous and it is harder for you to remember their names and jobs.