"Has she seen me?" A multiple methods study of the pharmaceutical care needs of older people with sensory impairment in Scotland

Nour Alhusein, Leah Mcaden, Annetta Smith, Kathleen M Stoddart, Andrea J Taylor, Kirsty Killick, Thilo Kroll, Margaret C Watson

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Objectives To explore the pharmaceutical care needs of, and service provision to, older people with sensory impairment (visual, hearing and dual impairment) on prescribed polypharmacy (≥4 medicines) in Scotland. Design Interviews were conducted with older people with sensory impairment and community pharmacy personnel, which informed the content of a subsequent national cross-sectional survey of community pharmacists. Setting Scotland, 2015–2016. Participants Older people with sensory impairment and community pharmacy personnel. Results Interviews were completed with 23 older people with sensory impairment (dual impairment n=13, visual or hearing impairment n=5 of each) and 30 community pharmacy personnel from eight of 14 Scottish Health Boards. A total of 171 survey responses were received. Older people reported that they did not always disclose their sensory impairment to pharmacy personnel. They also reported that medicines were difficult to identify particularly when their name, shape or colour changed. Pharmacy personnel relied on visible cues such as white canes or guide dogs to identify visual impairment and suggested that hearing loss was less visible and more difficult to identify. Many assistive aids in support of medicine management, such as dosette boxes, seemed inadequate for complex medication regimens. Few community pharmacy personnel reported receiving training in the care of people with sensory impairment.Conclusions This is the first comprehensive, multistakeholder, in-depth exploration of the pharmaceutical care needs of older people with sensory impairment. Strategies are needed to enable people with sensory impairment to disclose their impairment to pharmacy personnel (and other healthcare providers). Community pharmacy personnel require training to deliver person-centred pharmaceutical care for older people with sensory impairment particularly regarding communication with individuals in this vulnerable population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2018


  • pharmaceutical care
  • sensory impairment

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