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- Supporting someone with cancer
- Caring for someone with cancer
- Your role as a carer
- Medical care
- Managing medicines & applying for a PBS Safety Net card
Managing medicines & applying for a PBS Safety Net card
The person with cancer may be taking non-prescription and prescription medicines.
Learn more about:
- Questions to ask your doctor
- Getting help from the pharmacist
- Keeping a medicines list
- Applying for a PBS Safety Net card
Questions to ask your doctor
Knowing the answers to these questions can help save time and confusion:
- What are the names of the drugs and what are they for?
- How much should be given and when?
- How much will the medicines cost?
- How should the drugs be given (e.g. with or without food)?
- Is there anything, such as alcohol or driving, that should be avoided while taking the medicines?
- Do the drugs interact with other drugs or vitamin supplements or any other over-the-counter medicines?
- Are there any possible side effects? What should I do if the person experiences side effects?
- How long will the medicines be needed? Will the dose be reviewed?
- What should I do if a dose is missed?
- When is the use-by date, and where is it on the medicine packaging?
- How should the drugs be stored?
The pharmacist can provide a list of all the person’s medicines and when they should be taken, or they can prepare a blister pack (e.g. Webster-pak), which arranges all the doses that need to be taken throughout the week. The pharmacist can also keep prescriptions on file to make it easy to get repeats made up.
A medicines list can help you keep track of any medicines. It can also help health professionals understand which ones are being used, which is especially important in an emergency.
You can create your own list or download the MedicineWise app from the App Store or Google Play onto your tablet or smartphone. You scan the barcode on the packaging to add a medicine to the app, record dosages and set reminders for when to give each medicine at the right time.
Visit healthdirect.gov.au/medicines or call Medicines Line on 1300 633 424 to find out more about medicines,
Apply for a PBS Safety Net card
The Australian Government subsidises the cost of many prescription medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Once a certain amount has been spent on medicines during the calendar year (the threshold amount), the person can apply for a PBS Safety Net card.
You can track what the person you are caring for spends on PBS medicines on a Prescription Record Form (available from pharmacists). If they use the same pharmacist, you can ask the pharmacist to keep a computer record instead.
Once you’ve spent the threshold amount, your pharmacist can give you a Safety Net card and your PBS medicines will then be cheaper or free for the rest of that year. To find out more, call 132 290 or go to Services Australia.
Dr Laura Kirsten, Principal Clinical Psychologist, Nepean Cancer Care Centre, NSW; Mary Bairstow, Senior Social Worker, Cancer Centre, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Anne Booms, Nurse Practitioner – Supportive and Palliative Care, Icon Cancer Centre Midland, WA; Dr Erica Cameron-Taylor, Staff Specialist, Department of Palliative Care, Mercy Hospice, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Louise Good, Cancer Nurse Consultant, WA; Verity Jausnik, Senior Policy Officer, Carers Australia; David Larkin, Cancer Supportive Care Manager, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, Canberra Hospital and Health Service, ACT; Kate Martin, Consumer; John McMath, Consumer; Simone Noelker, Physiotherapist and Wellness Centre Coordinator, Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre, VIC; Tara Redemski, Senior Physiotherapist – Cancer Care, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Dean Rowe, Consumer; Chris Sibthorpe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.