Your Medicines, Your Health (YMYH) is a Cwm Taf campaign to promote public education and awareness of the effective use of prescription medicines. Since the launch 15 months ago more than 7,000 individual regular medicine users have been given information and support.
Campaign initiatives include:
• Spring Clean Your Medicines Cupboard
• Take Them if You Can, Tell Us if You Can’t
• Remember to Bring Your Medicines Into Hospital
• The Holiday Health Travel Checklist for Medicines
YMYH is co-ordinated by a small team based at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda working across the whole of the Cwm Taf Community in partnership with all health sector groups, Local Authority teams, Welsh Ambulance Service Trust, Community Pharmacy Wales, many third sector groups and organisations such as the Rotary Club for Wales.
We asked Cwm Taf UHB’s Head of Medicines Management Suzanne Scott-Thomas what you need to know about taking prescription medicines....
Q- Why would someone not take their prescribed medication?
A – Lots of reasons. They may simply forget but a common reason is that many medicines are prescribed for long term conditions that don’t make you feel ill if you miss a few doses. Patients then think that they don’t need the medicine and stop taking it or only take it now and then. The condition then slowly gets worse and by the time the patient feels ill it may be too late. They would have felt healthier for longer if they had taken the medication as prescribed to prevent the illness.
Q-What should they do if they can’t take their medication?
A – They should speak to their pharmacist as soon as possible.
Q – Why is it important to tell someone if I am not taking my medication as prescribed?
A – Whatever the reason it is important that you tell your pharmacist or doctor that you are not taking your medication as prescribed or not at all. Not taking medication that your doctor thinks you are taking can be dangerous, doses may be unnecessarily increased and other medication prescribed that you don’t need. If you then start taking your medication you could be on the wrong dose or taking something that you don’t need, this could make you feel ill.
Q – What should someone do if they are embarrassed to bring back so much medication?
A- We want all our patients and their families to be safe at home. It’s really important that people don’t stockpile medications at home. There is certainly no need to be embarrassed. Your pharmacist won’t judge you when you return unwanted medication; they will be pleased that you and your family are safer in your home. It is also an opportunity for you to have a chat with the pharmacist so that any problems that you are having with your medicines can be resolved and you can feel healthier for longer.
Q- Why is it dangerous to have a stockpile of tablets at home?
A – Firstly it is usually the first sign that someone is having problems taking their medication, they may be forgetting, getting side effects or just not wanting to take them. Either way, they will not be getting the benefit of their medication and their health may be suffering. There are many other reasons for not stockpiling including the risk of taking medicines that are out of date or no longer appropriate for you, or even could be taken by accident by a child or pet.
Q- Is there anyone else I can talk to apart from my doctor?
A – Yes your pharmacist can help. Your pharmacist can talk to you about your medication and if needed you can have a Medicines Use Review (MUR). This is where you and your pharmacist talk about any problems that you are having taking your medicines and help to solve them. Most patients who have had an MUR say that they feel more informed about their medication and understand how and why they take them. It may also be helpful to talk to your family or carer, and you can take someone with you to the MUR if you want.