Feeling overwhelmed as a caregiver? Your local pharmacist can help with information and resources
It’s not usual for pharmacists like Mike Boivin, from Barrie, Ontario, to see patients who once picked up prescriptions for an aging parent from time to time, quickly needing to manage regular caregiving responsibilities for their loved one.
“What can start as small caregiving tasks like driving a parent to an appointment can rapidly escalate and the demands on the caregiver can become overwhelming in a short period of time,” he says. “Then we start seeing them more regularly and many put on a courageous face that everything is fine, when in fact so many are having real issues.”
For more than eight million Canadian caregivers, navigating the healthcare system on behalf of a loved one is creating a world of stressors – many of whom feel alone, inexperienced and unsure in their role. With current efforts underway to “flatten the curve” of the COVID-19 infection rate, even more Canadians are being called upon to provide care to those who are ill or self-isolated and may require additional knowledge and support.
In 2018, Teva Canada recognized caregivers’ need for information and the opportunity to empower pharmacists to make the connection with caregivers. To meet the need, the free Caregiver-Friendly Pharmacy (CFP) program was developed by Teva Canada through a partnership with Huddol – Canada’s largest online caregiver support network connecting caregivers with peer and expert guidance (www.huddol.com). The CFP program includes an extensive online education program for pharmacists to ensure that Canadians needing care have the best possible health outcomes, while also ensuring the well-being of the caregiver. Further support is offered through online resources such as a mapping tool that helps caregivers find a pharmacy in their local area that specializes in their needs at www.tevacaregivers.com.
Boivin likes the Caregiver-Friendly Pharmacy program because it opens the dialogue between pharmacists and caregivers. “The CFP helps pharmacists to engage and identify caregivers to provide support; and it provides a wide range of free tools and resources for caregivers to help them feel confident in the care they provide.”
To get the most benefit from supportive programs like the Caregiver-Friendly Pharmacy, Boivin wants caregivers to remember:
- You are not alone when caring for a loved one;
- Your questions are valid and you need to be able to get answers to your questions to help you confidently care for your loved one;
- Pharmacists who have completed the CFP training can provide the support and information about services you need (but might not know about) to care for your loved one,
- It’s important to be proactive – identify yourself as a caregiver so that your pharmacist can provide answers or guide you towards getting the answers you need.
Mike Boivin says pharmacists can offer a wealth of information and resources to support caregivers in need.
“Caregivers are the unsung heroes in the healthcare system, and we’re certainly seeing this more clearly with the COVID-19 outbreak,” says Boivin. “It’s empowering for caregivers to be recognized and have to access to educational tools, checklists, and a collection of resources. This creates a sense of confidence for the caregiver knowing they have the expertise, understanding and support of a pharmacist when they need it.”
Caregiver-Friendly Pharmacy – Free Online Support and Resources at Your Fingertips
In addition to a number of tools and resources available through the CFP program, two of the most frequently downloaded online tools on the Teva Canada website (www.tevacaregivers.com) are the:
- My Pharmacy Checklist – this checklist helps caregivers document a list of health conditions and medications of the person in their care that can be shared with their pharmacist, and
- My Support Network – download and complete this worksheet to track your support network and share with your pharmacist.
At www.tevacaregivers.com, caregivers can also find instructive guides for caring for people with specific conditions like cancer, dementia and multiple sclerosis, and a ten-episode podcast series on Care During Cancer that explores the most common issues that people may experience while living with cancer.
Watch Teva Canada’s Acts of Love video to see how caregivers embrace their changing role in order to bring care and joyous moments to a loved one as their health changes.