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It’s all in the language

Hannah Mann of Kimberley Pharmacy Services continues to innovate and develop services for her community after taking out the 2015 Pharmacy of the Year award.

And in one of her latest projects she is looking at how to ensure her patients get the maximum benefit from their medicines by taking them as directed.

Ms Mann said that after speaking to indigenous patients she and her team realised that as clinicians they had changed the way they spoke to their patients.

“We found we had adjusted our language and wondered if we needed to look at this more closely,” she said.

“So we did a survey among three different Indigenous communities and asked patients what it meant to them when the label on their medicine said to take it at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and bedtime.

“We understand what that means but what did it actually mean to these patients taking the medicine.

“We asked them what time of day they associated with those instructions and we got a different answer everywhere.”

Ms Mann said she found some patients were confused when medicines said they were to be taken with some meals.

“We found we had patients who were instructed to take their medicines three times a day and were confused by the breakfast, lunch and dinner instructions because they associated these meals with different times of the day.

“What this meant was that some were taking all their medicines at once to make sure they took the three a day as they were told to.

“The other issue we find in our communities is that for many people dinner is lunch, and what we call dinner is supper. So people who are meant to take their medicine in the morning and then at night, or breakfast and dinner as per the instructions, were taking them only a few hours apart.

“We are now trying to get rid of the term ‘once daily’ from all of our dosage and instead have the conversation with the patient about how they take the medicine and when.

“We get so caught up in explaining how the medicine works that we can forget about the important part of when to take the medicine, or how to take it correctly, which is such a critical part of getting the best benefit from that medicine.”

Following the survey the team is tailoring the instructions on medicines to the communities that people come from.

“We are ensuring that language is consistent with their DAAs, their blister packs and so on. If the patient tells us this what they understand by terms like lunch and dinner then we make sure the instructions reflect their understanding.

“What is boils down is us saying to the patient: ‘What is it we need to do to make it as easy as possible for you to remember to take your medications’. And that’s the whole point of dose administration aids – to make it as easy as possible for patients to be adherent.

“So we are putting the patient at the centre of that and asking them what language do we need to put on the pack to meet your needs. We know the ‘one size fits all’ type of language isn’t working and we are trying to remedy that.”

Think your pharmacy is up to the Pharmacy of the Year challenge? The 2019 Guild Pharmacy of the Year competition marks the 20th year the Guild has been celebrating excellence in pharmacy practice. If your pharmacy has what it takes to be our next champion, enter online at

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