December 29th, 2010 at 3:26 pm
Bookmark and Share

Planning Required: Help a Caregiver Out, Will You?

by Isabel Fawcett, SPHR

Successful caregiving requires planning, whether some caregivers are organized, or not. Why, then, are there times where some caregivers, and other consumers, are put through social and business hoops that are time wasters? Many examples come to mind.

Pharmacy Runs – Daily?

There was a time in my caregiving journey where the end of my workday frequently meant a drive to the pharmacy for some prescription or care item needing replacement. Back then, the end of my workday was mostly unpredictable. I chose a 24-hour pharmacy to ensure that my mother’s prescription health needs would be met regardless of my unpredictable work hours.

  • The 24-hour pharmacy was not close to where I live, but so life goes. Longer drive time, but a midnight run once was less stressful than the alternative of having my mother skip her prescribed medical regimen for her more serious medical illness categories.
  • More times than I care to recall, the pharmacy told me that the doctor’s office had “not [called] back.” The doctor’s office affirmed that they had contacted the pharmacy with the prescription re-fill order. On a couple of occasions, 2 days elapsed before anything shook loose for the patient. Years ago, it happened with my mother’s insulin. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper – on a Friday night, no less. I paged the doctor on call and asked to have my mother’s life-sustaining insulin re-fill order called into the pharmacy as soon as possible that Friday night. The doctor was more than gracious, albeit befuddled by the still-unresolved pharmacy situation. I consistently believed the doctor’s office because on the rare occasion there had been a delay on the doctor’s office end, their medical assistant staff had been candid and apologetic regarding the delay.
  • As a caregiver, I only choose to handle the above sort of glitches a few times before I decide to choose another pharmacy provider in hopes that the new pharmacy’s customer service experience will be less tangled for me and my elder. I shudder when I think of what might happen if the pharmacy and medical office staff standoffs were to continue with finger-pointing while the patient languishes. The pharmacy ping-pong game can be exhausting.

I have long administered multiple daily prescribed insulin injections to my mother. Insulin injections – as in, life sustaining insulin. Years ago, on my way home from work at 9pm, I thought I’d stop at a non-24-hour pharmacy that was closer than the regular 24-hour pharmacy. I was too mentally exhausted to drive any longer than I needed to for the injection needles my mother needed that night. Silly me!

The pharmacy technician looked me up and down as if I were a drug addict seeking syringes – in my business suit, no less. She looked at my suit-covered arms. That may have been her clue that I’d merely used a business suit as a disguise. Understanding that there are laws that pharmacies are required to follow, I hit the road again. The pharmacy technician glared at me as I turned around to leave her mighty law-enforcing presence.

I didn’t have the energy to tell her that another pharmacy tech had sold me injection needles on another occasion when I’d bought a new glucometer. That was a minor detail that only affects caregivers like me, not pharmacy staff and operations.

That long-ago stare-down reception I got at a non-24-hour pharmacy years ago, reminded me of a similar reception this week at Mom’s regular pharmacy. This time, the pharmacy clerk told me that the pharmacy “has a policy” that they “don’t sell boxes of syringes” to customers. This, after the pharmacy technician had asked for the patient’s name, date of birth and address, all of which I gave – on cue.

The pharmacy technician looked up the patient information on the pharmacy computer, scrolled down the patient profile screen at leisure, then repeated herself on “the policy.” I asked to speak to the pharmacist in charge to ask when “the policy” had gone into effect for their regular pharmacy customers of many years who are on record as being prescribed multiple daily insulin injections.

I don’t recall the pharmacy technician’s mumbled reply. I do recall her fumbling and becoming flustered. I also recall my sheer exhaustion at the endless business and social hoops through which unpaid family caregivers must jump – multiple times daily. This blog is the tip of the caregiving iceberg of the caregiving dog chasing its tail.

Most of us caregivers just want to take care of business. That’s not much to ask. We’re busy; so are you.

Posted in Caregiving, Caring At Home, Health, Stress | No Comments »
Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply