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Communicating with carers in pharmacies and hospital wards

Care for the Carers has previously explored how GP surgeries in East Sussex can become more carer friendly, find out here about the initiatives Kamsons Pharmacy and Jubilee Eye Suite at Eastbourne’s District General Hospital have introduced to ensure they are ‘carer friendly’.


Case study 1: Kamsons Pharmacy

Kamsons Pharmacy logo

In 2019, Sussex-based and family owned group of pharmacies Kamsons Pharmacy is celebrating its 40th year. It opened its first pharmacy in Uckfield High Street in 1979. Since opening that first branch, the group maintains a strong caring family ethos throughout the group.

Carer friendly initiatives within Kamsons:

Kamsons offers free local delivery of prescriptions from each of its pharmacies. It hopes that this helps to make carers’ lives a little easier, if the trip to the pharmacist to collect medicines is one less job on a carer’s to-do list. Some pharmacies have restricted, cut back or started charging for deliveries, but free prescription collection and delivery is available to everyone from every Kamsons Pharmacy.

Healthy Living Pharmacy – in each of its pharmacies there’s a medicine counter assistant that has undergone health champion training, providing a greater emphasis on health promotion, doing targeted campaigns and promoting services such as their stop smoking advice.

All Kamsons staff have achieved Dementia Friends accreditation, so each of its pharmacies is officially ‘dementia friendly’.

Carers showing their East Sussex Carers Card can receive a 10% discount off purchases, except for prescription medicines.

NHS Medicines user reviews are available to patients taking regular medicines, so carers can benefit from discussions with the pharmacist, and can advise on the best time and way to take them as well as answer any questions that you may have. In some circumstances, after a review, the pharmacist may decide that extra help be made available, such as easy-open tops, reminder charts or dispensing medicines into reminder packs.

Kamsons staff will soon be taking part in Carer Awareness Training from Care for the Carers, to establish if there are any further carer-friendly initiatives it can introduce in its branches.

Promoting wellbeing for carers

Carers are at risk of heath conditions themselves and NHS Health Checks, commissioned by East Sussex County Council, are available by appointment at Kamsons pharmacies in Uckfield, Hastings town centre and Willingdon.

A free NHS Healthcheck takes 30 minutes and is available to East Sussex residents aged between 40 and 74 who are not already identified as having diabetes, high blood pressure or heart problems. The test involves measuring cholesterol levels and blood pressure and, if at risk, your blood sugar levels. There will also be a discussion about lifestyle, what you eat, how much alcohol you drink, whether you smoke and what exercise you do. At the end the trained adviser will give pointers as how you can stay healthy.

NHS flu vaccines are available from each Kamsons Pharmacy from September each year. Anyone who is a carer can walk into any Kamsons Pharmacy from September to December and get a free NHS flu vaccine, normally without appointment.

Kamsons has branches in Uckfield, Hastings, Hailsham, Peacehaven, Telscombe Cliffs, Stone Cross, Willingdon and five throughout Eastbourne.

Kamsons also tries to support staff with caring responsibilities, where possible, for example by offering a variety of part-time roles.

Case study 2: Jubilee Eye Unit at Eastbourne District General Hospital

By Helen Davies, Matron of the Jubilee Eye Suite, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Jubilee Eye Suite is an opthalmic day surgery unit. We realised that the patients we were looking after and their relatives, were quite often unpaid carers in need of support. So I attended a Care for the Carers training session and decided that I wanted to make Jubilee Eye Suite a more carer friendly environment and subsequently invited Carole from the charity to speak to the team at one of our meetings.

As a result of those discussions, as a team we decided that we would take every opportunity to help the patients and their relatives that we look after. We can help people at pre-assessment by giving out information and also when patients come in for their surgery.

We created a carers information board in the waiting room and share Care for the Carers’ contact information for carers to use when they need to. We are also taking the opportunity, if it arises, to help carers accompanying patients to the ward.

When we have given out information people are very grateful and have said they will contact the helpline, which is very satisfying to think we have made somebody’s life a little easier.

If any new information is given regarding opportunities for carers it will be disseminated to staff in person, by email and in team meetings. I’ve mentioned this within broader internal staff meetings at the hospital, in the hope that our positive work communicating with carers, and our learnings, can trickle across to other wards within the area. Carole will soon be attending our surgical matrons’ meeting to discuss carers’ needs and how we could make a difference.

Jubilee Eye Suite’s Carer-friendly Community Award

We were delighted to be able to celebrate Jubilee Eye Suite’s work with identifying and supporting carers, and we presented it with a ‘Carer friendly community’ award in January 2019. Congratulations!

Do you work within a hospital setting?

Or regularly visit a hospital ward with the person you care for? Take a look at our checklist that provides prompts for positive changes that hospital wards can make to become more carer-friendly.

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