Med Wise is a peer-led program for seniors to help them manage their medications and build their confidence and knowledge in communicating with their pharmacists.
Seniors are the fastest growing population in Canada, and by 2036, they are expected to represent as much as a quarter of the population. The majority of seniors are prescribed five or more medications. Taking more medications increases the risk of mix-ups, unwanted side effects and drug interactions.
The Med Wise pilot program is focused on empowering seniors to:
- be confident in communicating with their pharmacist,
- use proactive communication skills in pharmacies, and
- actively participate in developing a care medication plan for themselves.
The program is organized and peer-led by Linda Kolewaski, Imagine Citizens Network volunteer and Community Health Ambassador, and has been piloted in three communities near Linda’s home in Cold Lake, Alberta.
Here’s what participants had to say prior to taking the workshop:
- I do not like taking pills so I do not take them if I can help it.
- I have medications but I take the amount that I think works best for me. I do not discuss my self-regulating – the amount or time of taking my drugs with anyone.
- Sometimes I do not take any to save my pills. (Participant with no drug plan to pay for drugs.)
- I keep my pills even if I do not use them all, like prescribed cough syrup, because you never know when you might need it again.
The Med Wise workshop includes a workbook, role-playing and personal stories to help seniors gain the skills and confidence to manage their medication and improve communication with their pharmacist.
The workshop is delivered peer-to-peer using a Community Health Ambassador concept. Ambassadors are trained peers adept at building trust which enables adoption of the evidence-based health ideas being shared. That trust has also enabled workshop participants to suggest improvements to the workshop and to help Imagine Citizens Network further develop our Community Health Ambassador concept.
Here are a few participant comments following a workshop:
- I was better prepared with a list of questions for my Doctor and my pharmacist when I went for my annual check-up this week.
- This made a good discussion about first and foremost you are responsible for your own health and healthcare. You need to have a good open relationship with your pharmacist and doctor and you need to know when to challenge an answer you feel is not acceptable.
- All seniors and going-to-be seniors and care givers should take the sessions. I did not realize what I did not know.
- People need to think of pharmacists as medical professionals and not retailers.
The program also aims to train pharmacy students to support seniors’ medication needs.
Imagine Citizens Network is currently planning to build capacity for senior-led delivery to expand this program to rural and urban settings Alberta-wide.
Med Wise is a collaboration between Imagine Citizens Network and the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. For more information contact Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org.