Pharmacy support for people with sight loss

Nina Barnett, Consultant Pharmacist, Medicines Use and Safety (SPS)Source Medicines Use and Safety Team Published

In 2015 the Royal National Institute for Blind people (RNIB) ran the largest UK survey into the experiences of blind and partially sighted people and as part of this work, found that 85% of blind and partially sighted people found it difficult or impossible to read information printed on medicine labels.

The Medicines Use and Safety team have collaborated with RNIB in raising awareness of pharmacy staff around support for people with sight loss. This included a workshop delivered at OPNet 2015 in London and a survey  to explore the existing provision pharmacy staff provided to meet the needs of blind and partially sighted people by pharmacy staff.

The survey of 200 pharmacy staff, undertaken in early 2017, revealed that:
• Most respondents believed labelling of medicines was very/extremely important
• Most assumed that the recipient of medicines could read the label
• About half of the respondents’ services could provide large labels, and one quarter adapted containers
• Over two thirds of respondents believed that their services are not very well set up to provide accessible information to people who can’t read standard print labels.

Further collaboration with the pharmacy team at Moorfields Eye hospital, working with MUS and RNIB have led to the development of two factsheets. The first provides guidance for pharmacy staff about what a person with sight loss might need from the pharmacy team. The second is provides support for blind and partially sighted people in getting the most from their pharmacy service. These are both available to download here.

The full paper describing the collaborative work and survey was published in the Pharmaceutical Journal on 15 August 2017 on this link