People with learning disabilities are more likely to be taking multiple medicines, but labels are not designed with them in mind. This article in the Pharmaceutical Journal looks at a project run by a team at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in 2021, which came from a person with learning disabilities requesting medicine labelling with “the name of the tablets in big letters so I know what tablets I’m taking."
The team ran exploratory workshops to listen to how people with learning disabilities engaged with information on medicines at home, at the doctors and at the pharmacy. Using visual minuting to capture views, they produced a poster to show participants’ responses and the co-design approach used for the work. The key findings from the workshop were:
- Understanding medication really matters to people.
- Not being able to read medication labels is a risk to patient safety, frustrating and takes away people’s independence.
- Changing the colour of packaging or the tablets themselves can be problematic, especially if these changes are not explained.
The project highlighted that it is time to move away from standard labels and look towards more personalised medicine labels, actively promoting ways to support people with learning disabilities in taking their medicines. The article suggests a number of interventions to make this happen, including additional training for pharmacy staff and flagging on pharmacy systems.