Building bridges: New pharmacy program in Canada connects with caregivers
There are currently over eight million Canadians providing care to a family member or friend. According to the Canadian Carers Pulse Survey (May 2018), 69% of caregivers reveal it has taken a toll on their emotional health, while over half said it affected their physical health. 1
Perhaps even more worrying is the perceived lack of support networks available to carers. Amongst carers, one-third do not feel properly supported or heard by pharmacists, leaving a quarter of carers unsure about the treatment program or condition of the person they are caring for. 2
In order to help with this vital need, Teva Canada and Huddol (an online peer and professional support network for carers), have teamed up to create a new initiative aiming to highlight and strengthen the relationship between the caregiver and their pharmacist.
A six-month pilot was launched in Quebec in June 2018, with the future aim of rolling out the program across Canada. The main components of the project are an online training course for pharmacists and a carers’ information kit.
“The burden of caregiving is tremendous and if you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel it can become very, very stressful,” explains Lucy Barylak, carer and social worker.
Huddol conducted a market research survey with 300 caregivers in Quebec and Canada to assess their pharmacy experience. The findings showed that just over half of the respondents said the pharmacist knew they were the caregiver and 73% of respondents revealed the surprising fact that the pharmacist never or rarely asked them about their role as a carer. 3
Highlighting the issue
“Too often caregivers go unnoticed as they move through the healthcare system. They play such an important role in advocating, mediating and coordinating as they interact with health care professionals. One of those critical professional touch points is the pharmacist and the pharmacy team,” said David Boughner, Senior Director Commercial Management at Teva Canada.
Mark Stolow, Huddol’s CEO, explains that there has been a growth in research around the role of the caregivers. While it is very important to understand the carers’ and pharmacists’ experience, the emphasis of this program is to facilitate proactive and tangible solutions.
“Understanding the caregivers’ in-pharmacy experience, the carers’ kit also aims to support the caregivers’ experience in the community and within the healthcare system. All of these contribute to better health outcomes,” Stolow says.
The kit is designed to optimize the in-pharmacy experience, to connect carers to support networks, help caregivers self-identify and recognize their own needs, assist pharmacists engagement with carers, and to build bridges between the two.
Teva Canada and their collaborators Huddol are running the pilot initially in French. Lori Mann, Associate Director Marketing Communications, explains they were keen to limit the pilot to the specific region of Quebec, while it is being trialed. The first three months are focused on making pharmacists aware of the educational program and completing the course so that they will be trained before distributing the carers’ kit. The online training involves three modules: Life as a carer, carers and pharmacists & supporting carers.
The second phase of the pilot will involve a digital ad campaign rolled out to raise the profile of the participating pharmacies. Teva Canada’s caregiver webpage contains downloadable PDFs and videos of carers, a link to the Huddol site, and a map that carers can search to find a pharmacy that has been trained to support them. The carers’ kit will then be handed to caregivers by the pharmacy teams who have completed the online course.
Among the elements in the care kit are a booklet to help caregivers navigate the healthcare system more efficiently and easily, helpful community support resources, information about Huddol, as well as legal information regarding being a proxy for the patient. It also includes a checklist for the caregiver to use in preparing for a meeting with their pharmacist.
The aim is to support carers in the decision making process, when to seek out help, how to know if there is a substantial issue regarding treatment, help understanding the disease and treatments available, and to reinforce the idea of allies in care.
Lori Mann explains that Teva Canada frequently collaborates on initiatives with leading experts in their field. “We always make sure our writers and consultants are some of the best experts in that space. So with caregiving and general wellness we identified Mark Stolow and Huddol.”
Huddol is the first bilingual social health network and online resource in Canada dedicated to helping caregivers connect with each other and the specific healthcare providers equipped to help them. Huddol was very keen to come on board with this innovative program. Stolow says: “It was exciting for us to see a company that was ready to take a proactive position towards carers and a priority for us to be involved with Teva Canada and support them in that process.”
 Teva Canada Carers Pulse Report – a survey conducted by independent global market research firm Edelman Intelligence on behalf of Teva Canada
 Teva Canada Carers Pulse Report – see note 1
 Based on Huddol market research report