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Managing medication with a visual impairment

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

Struggling to manage medication as a result of 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 third factsheet in this series considers strategies to help with administering your medication from a blister pack supplied by the pharmacist.  This advice and guidance is for people who cannot see to read the labels (day of week / time of day) on the blister pack.

When considering organising a blister pack, it is important to consider whether you would be able to identify tablets by shape or size, and remember how many tablets you should be taking at any one time. This is important so that any potential mistakes in the filling the blister pack by the pharmacy can be identified and medication taken correctly.  If you are not able to recall this information, a medication reminder as discussed in Factsheet 2 may be required as a prompt, not only that it is time to take your medication but also the number of tablets that you should be taking. Alternatively you may have a family member who could check the blister pack on receipt.

Discuss with your pharmacy to see if they can advise you and if there is any changes to your medication that is put in blister packs.

Struggling to access labelling (day of week / time of day) on the blister pack

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 with your GP. 

Try completing this task in daylight by the window on a worktop or under a task light, does the light from a daylight bulb help over that from a more traditional light bulb?

Tips for learning to navigate around a blister pack by feel

Sit squarely at a table with the blister pack positioned squarely to your body.

Use a dark coloured tray or large container under the blister pack to catch any tablets that you may accidently drop.

Develop a systematic approach when counting by feel of the individual pouches that contain the medication.  For example, for lunch-time medication – start in top left corner – count – two boxes across for lunch time, and three down for Tuesday.  You may initially want to ask a little bit of support from a family member or friend until you become confident.  This approach requires good cognitive ability.

Consider whether implementing a tactile marker, e.g. blu-tack that is moved daily to mark the day of the week being used, and using feel to identify the individual pouches that contain the medication. 

Consider a larger or alternative medication box

Larger blister pack – enquire at your local pharmacy if they are able to supply a larger blister pack. If not, would you be able to, or have assistance to transfer your medication to a privately purchased large medication box with larger print labelling on a weekly basis?

If you take the same medication every day, but are unable to identify correct medication you need to take due to difficulties in reading information on blister pack, consider whether you would be able to, or have assistance to transfer your medication into two or three separate 7-day medication boxes with large print labelling. Morning, lunch and evening medication boxes can then be placed in different rooms / locations in the house. 

Some Pharmacies are introducing a Medipack – where medication can be accessed via small plastic pockets on a roll. The Medipack is order where you can tear off a pocket from the roll to take medication. Consider whether you would be able to identify where to tear the pouch off the roll. 

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 see our support at home pages

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