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Difficulties reading information on medication

The below information is provided by the NHS and also Think, Involve, Promote, Sensory. 


Struggling to manage medication as a result of a visual impairment? 

This series of factsheets starts by exploring simple strategies to try and make the most of one’s remaining sight and applying these strategies to managing medication. Remember the following three principles:

"Bigger, Brighter, Bolder."

The first factsheet in the series begins with ways to identify medication and accessing information about your medication.

Difficulties reading information on medication, for example name or medication dosage

Low vision aid

Have you been assessed for a low vision aid / magnifier at the eye department at the hospital?  Or alternatively require a review of your current magnifier? 

If you are a patient at an eye department or have been assessed at the low vision clinic previously, please contact them to discuss the options available to you.  If you have been discharged from the eye department, you will need to discuss a referral to the Low Vision Aid clinic at the eye department via your GP. 

Accessible information

Talk to the pharmacist who dispenses your medication and inform them of the following: -

  • You have a visual impairment (if applicable, are registered as sight impaired / severely sight impaired);
  • You require information on your medication in an accessible format – e.g. large print with good contrast;

All NHS and publicly funded social care providers including Pharmacies are required to provide information in an accessible format under the NHS Accessible Information Standard 2015.  

More information is available on the Sense website

Learn Grade 1 Braille

All medication packaging should have the name of the medication in Grade 1 Braille on the medication packaging.  For more information on learning braille, please contact the RNIB on 0303 123 9999 for self-teach options or contact Staffordshire Cares and ask to be referred to a member of the Sensory Team Countywide.

Organisational strategies

The following strategies are ideas that you can consider and implement independently or with a little initial support to identify the medication. The first two strategies require good cognition:

Use of placement to separate medication, therefore identification is by where medication is kept, remembering to only remove one lot of medication at a time from its storage place;

Use of organisational skills to keep medication in order i.e. in a large container in a specific order, or organised into a set of small desktop drawers. 

Accessible labelling

Large print: whether full name or abbreviation – use a thick black marker pen to label the medication. If required use plain self-adhesive labels to provide a good contrasting background

Audible labelling: an example of an audio labeller is the RNIB Penfriend 3 audible labeller.

Tactile labelling: use of everyday household items to aid identification. Some tactile labelling ideas can be use of elastic bands / hair bobbles around medication, different number of elastic bands to identify medication packets, tactile lettering using the products from the RNIB website or cut the corner off one corner of a medication packet.

Difficulties in accessing the information on the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) enclosed with your medication

How to obtain the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) in an accessible format should be detailed on the leaflet.  Please refer to your individual medication for this information.

Alternatively, the Electronic Medicines Compendium (EMC) offers accessible information about a large number of the medicines licensed for use in the UK.

By calling EMC Accessibility on 0800 198 5000 you can listen to and / or request Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) in large / clear print, Braille or on Audio CD.  When you call EMC Accessibility you will need to provide the name of the medicine and the medicine's product code number.

Alternatively, the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) may be available on the EMC website. 

Contact us

We appreciate that there is a lot of information within this factsheet.  If you would like to discuss your specific difficulties in further detail, please contact Staffordshire Cares on 0300 111 8010.

For more information, please visit our support at home pages

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