Big pharmacies move to support vulnerable customers

McCauley Pharmacy chain launches smartphone app service to help existing customers

Many pharmacies have also been delivering to vulnerable customers since the scale of the crisis became clear in recent weeks. File photograph: Getty

Many pharmacies have also been delivering to vulnerable customers since the scale of the crisis became clear in recent weeks. File photograph: Getty

 

Some of the largest pharmacy retail chains in the State have rolled out new measures aimed at supporting vulnerable customers while limiting the need for physical contacts and ensuring people will not be left without essential medicines in the days and weeks ahead.

The McCauley Pharmacy chain, which has 35 branches countrywide, has launched a smartphone app service to facilitate existing customers who wish to order medicines for home delivery. It will also allow doctors and new customers upload prescriptions directly to pharmacists. The app can be downloaded from the app store or mccauleys.ie. The service will operate alongside a telephone ordering and delivery system in to help people to “stay at home” to protect themselves and others and to slow the spread of Covid-19.

First-time McCauley Pharmacy customers will need to download the app from the app store or the website - www.mccauley.ie - and register with their nearest pharmacist and upload their prescriptions while existing customers can view their medication history and order repeats once an account has been activated.

The pharmacy will also deliver prescription medications to telephone customers and will prioritise Covid-19, isolation and at-risk patients.

McCauley chief executive Tony McEntee said the app and delivery rollout had been fast-tracked “to enable everyone, especially older people, vulnerable people and carers to adhere to social distancing rules and to stay at home while still having access to essential medication”.

The Meagher’s Pharmacy chain which has 10 stores in the Dublin area has started a helpline to deliver prescriptions nationwide to people in need as “a direct result of listening to the fear in our elderly population these past two weeks”.

The helpline will be manned by pharmacists who can talk to or video call patients who may be at home and anxious. People can make contact by emailing help@meagherspharmacy.ie or calling 01-485309

The team are available to discuss queries people may have in relation to their medicines, give advice or signpost them in the correct direction to answer their calls – be that to their GP, HSE, Alone or any other appropriate organisation.

The pharmacists will aim to video calling patients “so that they see a human face who can offer them the expert advice and reassurance they need at this very lonely and worrying time for them”.

Customers will also be able to get prescriptions filled remotely by sending photographs of their prescriptions to local branches who organise delivery, along with other items including toiletries, vitamins and hand sanitisers.

Many other smaller pharmacies have also been delivering to their vulnerable customers since the scale of the crisis became clear in recent weeks.

Managing director of online pharmacy Healthwave Shane O’Sullivansaid his company had seen a “massive increase” in demand for its delivery service and had employed extra drivers as people seek alternatives to leaving their homes.