A 2014 Ipsos Reid Canada survey reported that pharmacists are the third most trusted professional in Canada, just behind firefighters and ambulance drivers. Yet many Canadians still fail to take advantage of all the health services provided by pharmacists. In fact, many people are totally unaware of the options that are available. These include many new services in provinces like Ontario.
Pharmacist services for people with diabetes
Pharmacists provide many services that can be of great value to people with diabetes. This is particularly true of pharmacists who are Certified Diabetes Educators (CDE).
Some of these services can include:
- Diabetes risk assessments
- Help in understanding blood glucose testing and selecting blood glucose meters
- Management of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
- Personal medication reviews
- Healthy eating information
- Foot care recommendations
- Sharps disposal
- Diabetes education sessions
- Referrals to other diabetes healthcare professionals such as dietitians
Newer services from pharmacists
In several provinces, pharmacists are now allowed to give flu shots, initiate smoking cessation medication, authorize prescription renewals and prescribe for minor ailments.
Pharmacists have additional knowledge regarding medications, and can provide full information about the drugs that you or the person you support have been prescribed. This can include information about the purpose of each drug and about the recommended scheduling of doses. They can also discuss potential side effects, including advice on what to do if these occur.
In several provinces such as Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, this advice can expand into a comprehensive one-on-one medication consultation.
For example, in Ontario all people with diabetes are entitled to a one-on-one annual appointment with a pharmacist to review medications and gain a better understanding of their medication therapy. This consultation is called a MedsCheck. Under certain conditions, an additional MedsCheck can be arranged within the year. Ask your pharmacist for more information.
Helping with medication challenges
Many people with diabetes have complicated medication schedules. Your pharmacist can help by drawing up a schedule showing all the medications that must be taken each day.
Many pharmacists can also prepare the medications in blister packs, which combine each day’s medications in a single convenient pack.
For people - often seniors - who have problems reading medication labels or opening medication containers, the pharmacist is also the person to turn to. Labels can be made up with extra-large instruction text. Easy-to-open bottles are also available.
Ongoing support with medications
If you or your family member or friend with diabetes has questions about their medication use, the pharmacist is the person to call. For example, the pharmacist can give advice on what to do if a dose is missed. He or she can also give advice about medication use during illness.
Keep the local pharmacist’s number in a visible place such as on the fridge door, for easy access.
If you provide regular caregiving to your family member or friend, you may also find it is helpful to introduce yourself to the pharmacist. Provide your telephone number for emergency purposes.
For additional information, you may find it helpful to read our article ‘Questions to ask the pharmacist about diabetes medications’.