Russell: Family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances – Messages to others who care for those taking medicines

Listen to patients and health professionals speak about their experience with taking multiple medicines.

Age at interview: 59
Number of medicines: 15
Cultural background: Anglo-Australian with Scottish and English heritage

Russell believes it is important to find someone who is non-judgemental and able to offer practical support.


I think you need someone to talk to that's safe ... You need people who are non-judgemental, but people who are ‘safe’, people who aren't going to say, ‘Oh, dear. That's terrible.’ ‘Oh, yes, you only need to do this and this and you'll be fine.’ Well, you don't really need that sort of help. You just need someone that's going to say, ‘How can I help you?’ or just practically, just help. I think the family generally has helped in their own ... and they probably haven't said very much, but I think generally speaking, they're more practically inclined to not sort of say, ‘oh ... ’ because the whole family, we've all had some different ups and downs in different things, so they're fine, but the biggest thing is that you need someone who isn't going to have the answers, the glib answers, you know, ‘I had a friend that just did this and this.’ Yes, it may have worked for them, it may have been alright for them, but it may not ... and it comes back to trusting people.


Russell how do you identify people who are trustworthy?


I think it's people you get to know that have either been through things themselves or have worked with people. My sister is now an Anglican minister, an Anglican priest in Melbourne, so for a long time she did work with different organisations where she worked with people and just had an enormous empathy with people, so you know that she hasn't been through some things, but you know that she's dealt with people. Other people, you just look at them and they just don't have that empathy. They just you know ... 

I've got another person, I won't name too fully, but whenever I say to this person, ‘Oh, I've had a bad week or I've had a few ups and downs.’ ‘Oh, I haven't had a good week either!’ ‘That's not what I'm trying to tell you. What I'm trying to tell you is that I haven't had a good week and I wouldn't mind talking to you about it.’ So, I just don't bother with that anymore. I've just ... it's a waste of time. 

And I've got another friend I ring from time to time and he's an ex-schoolie and he's done Lifeline and all sorts of things and he's the sort of fellow I ring up and I say, ‘Hello, how are you?’ and he says, ‘You're not too good, are you?’ I said, ‘No, I'm not too good.’ He'll just pick that up from just the way you're talking. And he's been very, very helpful. Very good. He's the sort of fellow you can trust, because he knows that he's not there to try and help, not to push on ideas. We went on a camp ... a church camp and I wasn't very ... I was down a bit and I said, ‘I don't think I'll come.’ He said, ‘I think you should come, but it's up to you.’ Then he rings back and he starts talking to the wife. ‘I can give you a separate accommodation all on your own. Would that help?’ That's the sort of thing that a real per- ... you know, now he didn't say any more. I went out to the camp and things went well. It was good that I'd gone, but he knew by the way I was talking to him. They're the sort of things people that have ... so you look for people that are going to be helpful, without judgemental ... helpful without having these glib answers.

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The Living with multiple medicines project was developed in collaboration with Healthtalk Australia.