Pharmacy in Community

The aim of this community-based module is to understand the challenges that senior citizens face in managing chronic diseases and how improvements can be made. The Capstone team comprising Arts, Business and Pharmacy undergrads collaborated with the highly active and passionate team at the Friends@Jalan Batu –  Jalan Batu is a low-income housing area and up to 40% of the senior citizens live alone.

Through house cleaning visits, weekly bingo games, exercise sessions and home visits, the Capstone team learned about the issues of poly-pharmacy (too many different medications), and the worldviews and habits of the senior citizens with regard to taking their medications.  They and the senior citizens documented and explored the issues of “Motivation (to take the medication), Social Networks (how it affects compliance to take the medication) and Routines/Habits” through interviews and a take-home digital photography project.

In addition to interacting with senior citizens and the Friends@JalanBatu team, the Capstone team read up on the healthcare issues that senior citizens face. They also met experts in this field — a team of pharmacists from the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital who are currently pioneering pharmacy step-down community care.

The experience of working with the senior citizens and seeing their world from their perspectives caused one of the team members (Lim Boon Ping) to reflect on the following:

“Throughout our research, we discovered a consistent disconnect between what the elderly know as important (such as having a healthy diet or taking their medication on time) and the actual actions that they take to achieve them. Instead of constantly feeding them with more information about what they need to do, we recommend that we reframe our intervention by approaching from the perspective of what the elderly want to achieve”.

A lesson like the one described by Boon Ping opens up a new way of connecting theoretical knowledge with practical needs; and this fits very well into our objectives for running the Capstone Experience module.