B2 - How to better support carers


Organised by the FIP Community Pharmacy Section in collaboration with the FIP Hospital Pharmacy Section and the FIP Social and Administrative Pharmacy Section


Jaime Acosta Gómez (FIP Community Pharmacy Section, Spain) and Felicity Smith (Practice & Policy, UCL School of Pharmacy, UK)


A carer is anyone, child or adult, who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of illness, frailty, disability or a mental health problem (including addiction) and cannot cope on their own without support. The care given is not paid for. Many people, mainly women, are now balancing work, childcare and caring for their loved ones. Increasing numbers of older people often care for their partner while providing childcare for grandchildren, and parents of children with complex health needs know that they will be “lifetime” carers. Furthermore, in our changing societies most people are living longer and many are developing long-term clinical conditions. The positive shift to independent living and care at home, away from institutionalisation, while allowing people in need to maintain maximum independence and control over their own lives will continue to require a greater contribution from carers.

Carers know the people whom they care for better than anyone else. They provide an extremely valuable service to the people whom they look after and thus, to society. Their knowledge can be extremely useful to health and social care professionals in planning patient care, and also in identifying problems that may require intervention such as scheduling and maintaining supplies and liaising with health professionals, especially when systems can be difficult to navigate or to access. Helping with the administration of medicines might also be challenging, especially when there may be different products and formulations (such as eye drops, nebulisers, patches etc.) that have to be scheduled at different times. Carers often have concerns about medicines — they notice side effects and may decide not to give something, they may worry that a medicine is not working, or they may have problems encouraging someone to take a medicine. On the other hand, they might not be informed about medicines, or they may, themselves, have sight problems which create difficulty with packaging or reading labels. Carers should be considered as crucial partners in achieving the responsible use of medicines and they are at the heart of 21st-century families and communities.

Although involving and supporting carers requires multidisciplinary input from the health and social services and the voluntary sector, primary care is often the initial point of access for carers. Community pharmacies and pharmacists are typically based in geographically accessible locations and, unlike physicians and other health professionals, are usually available for consultation without appointments, so many opportunities exist for pharmacists to interact with carers, and this offers an opportunity to transform outcomes in partnership with them and other health and social professionals.


  1. Presentation from a carer
    Tommy Whitelaw (The Alliance, Scotland)
  2. Workshop, including cases to be discussed from different countries/cultures/illnesses/carers

Learning Objectives

At the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Analyse how pharmacy services can meet the medicine-related and wider needs of carers more effectively, both for their loved ones and for themselves;
  2. Demonstrate the types of attitude and behaviour that carers expect from pharmacists;
  3. Differentiate what effect settings and cultures might have on the roles of carers and the pharmacy services that support them;
  4. Demonstrate skills for counselling, coaching, teaching and care planning with families and carers.

Type of session: Application-based