The Festive Season is upon us, and this means that many health and medical services may be shutting their doors for the New Year and Christmas period. This may mean your GP, HIV clinic and pharmacy where you collect your medicine could be unavailable, and it’s important to have a plan for your health care during that time. This could mean calling any services you routinely use to find out their closure dates, having alternatives in mind alternative options, and ensuring your medication supplies will carry you through till they reopen.
We’d recommend you contact your essential services by phone or have a look at their website, some key group to check on:
- HIV Clinic
- Local Grocery Store
- Post Office
- Psychologist or Counsellor
- Your work
Australian Department of Human Services (Centrelink) will be closed from the 25 December 2018 to the 27 December 2018 and on the 01 of January 2019, which may affect any payments you receive.
Most Queensland Government services (excluding emergency services & hospitals) will be closed from 25 December through to 01 January, but its best to call and confirm exact dates.
Queensland Positive People will be closed from 5pm 21 December 2018 and reopen 9am Monday 07 January 2019.
Alternatives for the Holidays
Maybe, despite your best plans, things will still pop up unexpectedly, here are some options:
- Calling 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) can be a great option for if you’re wanting some medical advice without heading to the hospital – you’ll speak to a registered nurse, who can walk you through basic first aid, offer some advice about options, or help refer you on to a hospital if needed. The partner hotline 1300 MH CALL (1300 64 2255) offers similar services for mental health related matters where you’ll speak to a mental health clinician.
- National Home Doctors Service covers most of Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Townsville and can be reached by dialling 13 SICK (13 7425). If you live in an area not covered, try contacting your local GP or hospital reception for advice.
With all of these services you will most likely experience a large wait time during the key Christmas and New Year dates, so it’s better to prepare with your usual health care professionals.
For your HIV medicines, in particular, it would be a good idea to ensure you have at least one (1) month supply of treatment by mid-December, unless you have already made other arrangements with your doctor, clinic and pharmacy.
Above all, whether the festive season is a joyful one, or a time you dread, remember the rule of self-care, and that includes not missing your daily HIV medicines. If you travel away from home remember to take your medicines with you, and enough for the duration of your trip. A dosette box/container often helps with adherence, where your medicines a carefully placed into daily chambers at the start if each week, then you can clearly see if you have taken them or not despite any festivities. Ask your pharmacist for one of these containers – some of them can be snapped apart, say if you going away for just a weekend you can take only those days portion with you. Try to account for delays in your travels though, you never know if you might get held up for an extra day. If you miss a dose, try not to worry, you can take a late dose if it’s been only a few hours, or if it’s been more than 4 hours just start again at the next scheduled dose, but remember 95% is the minimal adherence level you need to aim for overall.