You may think taking medication a little late or missing a dose will do no harm – not with Parkinson’s disease.
Caring for Parkinson’s clients every week has given me an intimate insight into how medication and meaningful stimulation can make a huge difference to their quality of life.
I’ve recently witnessed a couple of terrible – and wholly avoidable – incidents where people’s lives have been put at risk by the lack of understanding amongst hospital staff about Parkinson’s disease. Whilst visiting one of my care clients in hospital it got to the time when his medication was due – I left it five minutes – no-one came. I then asked politely if someone could give him his tablet – “Yes – just on our way” was the reply – twenty five minutes later after a further reminder he finally got his tablet.
Parkinson’s medication is required on time to stimulate the mind into action – miss the slot and you miss the chance to stimulate. You cannot “double up” to counteract the affect of missing a dose. When a patient misses a tablet you can slowly see their responsiveness ebb away right in front of you.
I first realised the importance of timely medication when caring for Parkinson’s clients in their own home. They would often self-medicate and used alarms to prompt them. They – or their loved one – were in charge and tablets were taken to time.
When you take the chance to self-medicate away – like in hospitals – that’s when things start to go wrong.
Parkinson’s patients often need their pills at times outside the “official medication rounds” that are often limited to four times a day. This doesn’t fit with the Parkinson’s medication routine as each patient needs their tablets at differing times. Whilst this causes additional work for nurses, it’s not acceptable that a patients needs cannot be catered for because of inflexible systems and a lack of urgency to administer tablets on time.
There’s a great tool to aid medicating on time – it’s a simple clock face and all you do is circle the times when tablets are due. Having this clock face by the bed of each Parkinson’s patient is the perfect way to remind nurses when medication is due.
There really is no excuse for not medicating Parkinson’s patients on time – it makes the world of difference to the speed of their recovery in hospital and the chances of getting them home sooner – now surely that’s good news for everyone……….