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Soria adds one more healthcare service with rural pharmacies

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In five years, pharmacists in the province of Soria have become a healthcare service for the elderly population. They contribute, through the therapeutic adherence project, to ensuring that the elderly in the inhospitable rural environment of Soria can remain in their homes and avoid being institutionalized or residing in another place that has nothing to do with their roots.

Visitation Mateo Crespo goes to the Valdeavellano de Tera pharmacy like every Monday to pick up medicines for his husband, a chronic and polymedicated patient. The local pharmacist, Elvira Sal del Río, has organized in her case the pills that she must take according to the guidelines set by her doctor. Pharmacists in rural Soria have incorporated the personalized medication dosing system into their work, reports Ical.

The Therapeutic Adherence Service is aimed at dependent patients in rural areas and is financed by the Social Services of the Provincial Council, which tries to optimize the use of medication in the most vulnerable residents of rural areas.

Elvira Sal del Río, who is also vice president of the College of Pharmacists of Soria, details that the pioneering project, which started in 2018, has been replicated in other provinces of the Community and has won several awards for its innovative, social and healthcare nature. .

Currently, 22 of the 47 pharmacies in the province are participating in the project, which have provided the service to 77, 92 and 98 patients during the years 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively. During this year the forecast is to cover the needs of 100 patients. The average age of the beneficiary patients is 85 years and 38 percent of the cases have a recognized degree of dependency and/or disability.

Sal del Río explained that during the first year of introducing the service, an 80 percent decrease in hospital admissions was observed; doubling the number of patients with optimal knowledge of their treatment and tripling the degree of adherence to them, results that have been reproduced year after year with similar figures.

“The majority of the rural population suffers from chronic diseases, is elderly and is polymedicated. Many of them had poor therapeutic adherence, meaning that the treatment was not correct, it was often seen that they did not take the medication at the indicated time or often forgot,” he says.

The project aims to ensure that they take their medication well, an issue that gives peace of mind to children who live abroad; reduces the number of admissions in residences; and allows the elderly to continue living with quality of life in their town of origin. Confusion when taking medications is a general trend in many cases, either because they suffer from cognitive impairment or because they have to take so many pills that the intake can become chaotic.

The Professional Therapeutic Adherence Service (SPD) is aimed at those people with the greatest difficulties in taking their medication, as explained by the representative of the Provincial Council’s Social Services area, Laura Prieto, who details that 80 percent of Older people in rural areas do not have proper family support.

“40 percent of residents in rural areas live in towns that do not have a pharmacy or medicine cabinet, where the doctor consults three days a week or less and the average number of medications per patient can exceed nine drugs. On many occasions, it is the social agents (Ceas) who refer patients to pharmacies for inclusion,” he indicates.

In this scenario, the perception of the usefulness of the project is enormous for all the agents involved, from the participating pharmacies and the beneficiary patients to the medical staff and social agents, who in many cases are the ones who refer patients to the pharmacies for its inclusion.

Patients perceive more continuous professional support, increasing their safety and optimizing the use of their medication. This additional support can be the determining factor in avoiding the institutionalization of patients, so it can be considered that the pharmacy contributes to the establishment of the population and works in the fight against the great problem of depopulation suffered by rural areas.

“As community pharmacists, we have a great responsibility from our workplace. We are the closest and most accessible health professional for the patient, and due to our skills and functions we have a relevant role in the care cycle, being able to directly influence the perception, knowledge and skills of patients with respect to their pathologies and treatment,” underlines the pharmaceutical.

Having a defined work protocol and action plans for the preparation of the SPD greatly facilitates its application and incorporation of this way of working in the usual practice of pharmacies, helping in the detection, assessment and monitoring of patients with health problems. therapeutic compliance.

“The least effective medication is the one that is not taken and only an involved and well-informed patient will be the one who takes the prescribed medication in the correct dose, time and manner. Therefore, the work of the pharmacist to make the patient aware of their illness and the importance of complying with their treatment is fundamental,” he says, adding that the only healthcare provider who is permanently present in the lives of the residents of the area rural are pharmacists.

The project obtained a rating of nine out of ten in a satisfaction survey carried out among beneficiary patients. The College of Pharmacists and the Provincial Council are studying the possibility of offering the possibility of participating in this project to the municipalities in order to incorporate the largest resident population in rural areas.

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