I went to the hospital for my skin check up. The doctor gave me some new medication for my eczema that I hadn’t had before.
I took my prescription to the hospital pharmacy.
When I went in there it was very busy, lots of people waiting and only one member of staff on.
The pharmacist looked quite stressed. I gave my prescription to him, he gave me a number and told me to come back in about 20 minutes, as he was on his own. I went for a walk and came back 20 minutes later. He shouted my number and gave me my medication.
These was a new moisturiser for my body, new shampoo, creams for my feet, and new tablets. I asked the pharmacist to explain how to use all the medications as I’d not had them before. He told me to look at the information in the boxes – he said he was busy, and did not have time to explain it all to me. I felt really stressed out and upset.
I told him I had dyslexia, and find reading and writing very difficult and that I have learning disabilities. He looked stressed and said he hadn’t got time to help me read the information. I felt very anxious then.
When I saw the nurse earlier, she had said to go back to her if I had any problems. I went back to see her. She went through all the medications with me. She said she couldn’t draw pictures, but she put letters on the boxes, like “s” for shampoo “c” for cream, and told me how often I had to take them. I felt less stressed out after I’d seen the nurse.
I went back to the pharmacy this week. It was a lot quieter and there were more staff on. It was a different person who served me, she went through my medication with me to make sure I knew how to take it. I felt a bit uptight going back to the pharmacy, I wasn’t looking forward to it, I was worried it was going to be a battle. When I came out this time I felt at ease, relieved that I was supported in the way I needed and that I was respected.
In our work at CHANGE we talk to lots of people with learning disabilities. We asked some people about their experiences of going to the chemist. This is what they said:
“The boxes are hard to fill in cos they are very small. The staff are often too busy to help.”
“Sometimes staff can be rude, but others are really helpful and ring me up with information. They are very good and know who I am and just give me my prescription when I go in.”
“I get really nervous not knowing what box to tick, but I’m afraid to ask in case I get in trouble or confused. The chemist is usually friendly and they know me.”
Shaun Webster MBE is an international project worker at Change. He recently spoke at the King’s Fund conference, Commissioning person-centred care for vulnerable groups: what role does pharmacy play?