and sources of support in a prominent place in the pharmacy

Davidsons Chemist Brechin staff - (l-r) Aileen (pharmacy assistant), Emma (pharmacist), Gill (sales supervisor), Jaquie (pharmacy assistant) and Laura (ACT) - go purple for Alzheimers!

Many pharmacists in Scotland are already getting involved in their local dementia-friendly community projects and encouraging their staff to become Dementia Friends so they can learn a little about dementia and what it’s like to live with the condition. Increasingly, they’re turning that understanding into action.

Even if there isn’t an existing dementia-friendly project in your area, you can make some relatively simple changes to make your premises and services more dementia friendly. Here are some top tips:

LOOK AT THE PHARMACY ENVIRONMENT AND HOW YOU COMMUNICATE Is there a quiet area where you can chat to customers where there are concerns about dementia – either about getting a diagnosis or where person has an existing diagnosis but their condition is deteriorating? Communicate clearly, listening carefully without rushing the person and consider using simpler, shorter sentences or writing information down to remind the person what has been discussed.

Consider whether there are any adjustments that could make the environment more accessible, such as better/clearer signage or better lighting. Flooring can be an issue too – not just making steps clearer but also look at the floor surface. To a person with dementia, for example, a shiny floor surface might look like water, or a change in flooring from one area to another might look as if there is a


INVESTIGATE TRAINING OR AWARENESS RAISING SESSIONS FOR STAFF Ideally, all staff should become accredited Dementia Friends, either on-line or via a face-to-face awareness session. Don’t forget to include delivery drivers in this – they’re often the people who can spot the signs that someone may be developing dementia or struggling with an existing dementia.

LOOK FOR WARNING SIGNS IN YOUR REGULAR CUSTOMERS Have pharmacy staff noticed changes in customers, such as people forgetting to collect prescriptions or coming in to the pharmacy more often, asking for the same items repeatedly? Are patients starting to look more unkempt or behave in ways that seem out of character? Are blister packs being returned full? Has the delivery driver commented on changes they have noticed when delivering medications to people’s homes?

Use your knowledge of the local community to help signpost customers to sources of support

You will, no doubt, have good relationships with local GP surgeries, but what about other agencies or individuals, such as your local Alzheimer Scotland service? Or the local Carers’ Centre? Are there any support groups or community activities in your area that your patients with dementia might benefit from?

Display information about dementia

Having relevant information leaflets about dementia and local support services and activities can be a good way of starting a conversation if you have concerns about a customer. Your local Dementia Advisor can advise on suitable material which will include cards displaying the number of Alzheimer Scotland’s 24-hour Freephone Dementia Helpline (0808 808 3000).

MEDICATION ADHERENCE Think about how you check that the patient understands when you explain about taking any medication. Reduce confusion for customers with dementia by providing a consistent manufacturer’s medication where possible – alterations in packaging, colour or shape of medication can lead to non-compliance.

Many people with dementia manage their medication well with reminder systems but it needs to be the right system. Polypharmacy can, for example, cause problems for people with dementia, with potentially severe consequences. Consider discussing with the patient’s GP if their medication regime can be simplified to help with compliance. •

For more in-depth understanding, NHS Education Scotland has cre- ated an online resource called ‘The pharmaceutical care of people with dementia’, which can be accessed in the Pharmacy Educational Re- sources section of the NES website

For more information go to or email CASE STUDY

Staff members from Davidsons Chemist underwent dementia- friendly pharmacy training. Marina Macfarlane, Public Health Services Co-ordinator at Davidsons Chemist, says that the whole company has benefitted from the training.

‘We held two dementia-friendly training sessions which allowed one member of staff from each branch to attend. This mean that they could pass on what they had learnt to the rest of their pharmacy teams. Even though our pharmacy teams are already very good at working with patients with dementia and their families, our staff said that the training signposted them to issues they would never have thought of.

‘They were shown, for example, how to spot the early signs of dementia in a patient; a patient, who may, for example, come into the pharmacy with odd shoes on, or with their coat or cardigan buttoned up incorrectly. Those subtle nuances can make all the difference in an early diagnosis of this terrible illness.

‘Staff were also taught how to reduce the level of stress that patients with dementia may be feeling. Some may, for example, feel anxious about even coming into the pharmacy post diagnosis, while those who may not have received a diagnosis may become distressed if things are moved about in the pharmacy from one place to another. The training not only made the staff more aware of the things that can make a patient with dementia distressed – allowing them to reduce that stress – but also made them feel more confident in dealing with situations.

‘I think such actions are particularly important for patients who may not have any close family. The training not only made staff more aware of the dementia care pathway, but also made them feel more confident about contacting the family about their concerns or about contacting social services.’

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