Pharmacy U

Catering to patients in residential care centres



by André Dubois

Photo by Chantale Lecours


Valérie Marcouiller, pharmacist and co-owner, was ready for a new challenge and so when the opportunity to serve several patients in a residential care centre arose, she took it.

The result was an awakening of sorts. “I said to myself: Wow! In a setting like this, I can apply all my university learning! I work collaboratively with doctors and nurses. I have access to lab data, creatinine, potassium, TSH… In a seniors’ residence, so much can be done.”

Right from the start, Valérie also saw a major benefit for her experienced technical assistants. “Some of them really knew everything there was to know. Creating these services was a new challenge for them and became a staff retention tool.”

Gradually, the service offering developed and an on-site counselling office open a few hours a day for patients with or without an appointment was launched. Care units now receive patient medications along with medication administration records. Controlled drugs, narcotics and targeted substances are also subject to specific verification procedures.

Over time, this experience has led Valérie to certain realizations. “As pharmacists, we are used to having people come to us. In this situation, we go to them. Being closer to our customers allows us to listen for seemingly trivial comments that help us pinpoint much more critical problems.”

An on-site presence provides another advantage. “It allows us to interact with the care team in ways that would be unlikely otherwise. The care team doesn’t necessarily call me every time, but I often hear, ‘since you’re here, Valérie, I have a question for you.’”

According to Valérie Marcouiller, “A pharmacist becomes most effective within a multidisciplinary team…I love it!



  1. Trust your instincts and have a vision. The management team of the facility you want to work with has to share this vision; everyone must value patient health and well-being.
  2. Personally interact with the care team to better understand issues. Be present, on site.


André Dubois is a pharmacist with a wider view of the practice. He has worked for banners and in community settings.