“I still need my medication, even in a pandemic!”
What people in Kirklees told us about ordering, receiving, changing, and reviewing their medication in challenging times
Health and care services changed dramatically and with little or no prior notice during the Covid-19 pandemic. In an unprecedented and constantly changing situation, services had to respond and adapt rapidly. From the start of the pandemic, Healthwatch Kirklees have worked to understand people’s experiences, to help identify where things have been working well and where things could be improved.
Through periods of lockdown, people were asked to only leave their homes for essential journeys and some people were also shielding for long periods of time or self-isolating to protect others. However, throughout this time, people still needed to seek health care, support, or treatment for various issues, and accessing medication was still vitally important for many. We started to receive feedback that indicated that people were having difficulties with ordering, receiving, and reviewing their medication so we set out to understand the issues people were having.
The engagement took place between January and March 2021 via surveys shared online and also through the Kirklees Home Library Service (delivered by the Royal Voluntary Service).
5 Key Findings
- Due to the reduction in face-to-face appointments with healthcare staff, some found it more difficult to obtain medication in a timely way.
- Some were happy to have a medication review on the phone, whereas others would have preferred a face-to-face appointment and there was some frustration around the limited amount of communication regarding medication reviews.
- People were generally impressed with the way pharmacies adapted their services in response to challenges presented by the pandemic with some starting to offer home deliveries for the first time. Some people now find it easier to order medication online and have medication delivered.
- Periods of shielding and self-isolation meant that people who were previously managing their own medications suddenly had to start requesting and relying on support from other sources such as family, friends, neighbours and volunteers. South Asian people were twice as likely to rely on family and friends to collect medication, which they hadn’t done previously. The pandemic often brought out the very best in people; a great deal of compassion and good will was extended towards others who might be struggling but some people, understandably, did not like being dependent on others for things like medication ordering and collection.
- Some people have faced additional barriers relating to access, communication and digital technology and these are areas which could be improved in future to ensure good quality, equitable access for people who need medication during the continuing challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.