By Pooja Bharucha, Resident Pharmacist at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children
It’s safe to say that changes to our ways of working have left many of us feel like we’ve hopped onto a rollercoaster ride, without a seatbelt on! Nonetheless, there have been many positive changes to our practice.
To protect our patients and staff from COVID-19, parents/carers requiring outpatient medicines are being encouraged to receive them via the Trust’s postal and courier service. This has moved us away from traditional face to face counselling at a busy out-patient pharmacy, to a more personalised phone call at a parent’s preferred time.
Giving medicines to children
Often children can be on complex therapies and parents/carers require extensive counselling to understand what, how and when to give children their medicines. Many unlicensed preparations are used, dose administration can be tricky and the correct formulation isn’t always available. For example, a parent/carer may have to crush tablets or open capsules and suspend the contents to produce a formulation. From this, they draw up a dose using ancillaries provided. This alone can be quite overwhelming for parents/carers, so counselling plays even more of a crucial role in making sure the right medicines are given to the patient in the best way.
Telephone counselling at a convenient time has eliminated the usual stresses of life for parents/carers, such as train times and school pick-ups. This allows them to have better headspace and time to digest information explained by the pharmacist. The level of engagement has significantly improved. Families are more willing to participate, understand medication use better and get all their questions about their child’s medication and conditions answered at a time when they’re ready to hear them.
The change has also enabled pharmacists to allow more time for consultations, which means we no longer have to limit the amount of information we can share. This has helped us utilise our expertise and skills to further support parents/carers.
Who would have thought this pre-pandemic – that a simple phone call could bring about so many positive changes for pharmacists, parents, carers and patients!