Have you encountered a patient who is going through a hard time and thought “how can I help”?
I will be honest; I currently work in hospital, but am in a role where I don’t provide direct care to patients and when I worked in community I worked an affluent suburb, where on the surface everything appeared “rosey”. It never occurred to me that things weren’t exactly as they seemed.
But now I realize that may not be the case at all.
Perhaps I had patients that were in abusive relationships, perhaps they were involved in medication misuse; maybe they didn’t know where their next meal was coming from; maybe all that was happening to them, and I didn’t realize it.
Maybe you have patients like this and you are unsure of how you can help or what resources are out there.
These are questions I never really thought about (I know very “Pollyanna” of me) until I attended the ACP Leadership symposium on Medication Misuse. At this symposium I heard 3 speakers; first was Dr. Nicole Sherrin of the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative, who spoke about our brains and about “Adverse Child Events” and how they are relevant to substance abuse. I heard from Dr. Cam Wild who spoke about the state of addiction in Alberta and some system gaps that are contributing to misuse, intervention, and treatment of our patients. The third speaker we heard from was Pamela Spurvey who offered a firsthand perspective of her life with mental health issues and addiction.
It was Pamela whose experiences stayed with me; in particular she mentioned that she was unaware of some resources that were available to her. While I wouldn’t have immediately thought that this was a role for Pharmacy, the more I heard her story the more I realized that there were instances when she interacted with Pharmacy staff and could have received the information she needed to get help and support.
At the end of the symposium we were asked to identify one action item we could commit to following through on in our practice and day to day lives. The action item I chose was to help create a list of resources that pharmacy technicians would (hopefully) find helpful and be able to use to offer support to their struggling patients.
I was able to locate the following online resources:
- the 211 Alberta Resource Database is a province wide datebase that allows you to select the city/town and service you are looking for;
- the Canadian Mental Health Association – Edmonton lists Edmonton specific resources;
- the Canadian Mental Health Association – Calgary offers Calgary specific resources;
- the Federal and Provincial Service List is a handbook that offers information on federal and provincial financial assistance and benefits as well as other resources.
Now when I look back at that time in my career, with life experience, age, and wisdom, I realize that all of the situations I described were probably happening and I was just unaware. I can now see the impact that I could have had on my patients if I had just asked “how can I help”.
You may never know the impact you have on someone, that is why it’s important to take every chance to make a difference in someone’s life. Let us know if you find these resources useful, or if you have any additional resources to add. We want to hear about how you are impacting your patient’s in a postive manner and improving their quality of life.