Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Pill dispensers test reports

Tests of pill boxes, alarms and automatic dispensers

A team of six professionals and two users assessed a range of pill boxes, reminders, alarm systems and automatic pill dispensers; we reviewed 17 memory-aid products in all. The reviewers looked at a number of features, including the points mentioned in our list of things to look out for, and noted how useful each memory aid would be for people with different disabilities to remember to take their medicine.

In the lab, we dropped each aid on to a hard floor 26 times to see how it would stand up to accidents.

The results are given below, in the following categories and then by order of price:

  1. Pill boxes
  2. Alarms
  3. Alarm systems (alarm + pill box)
  4. Automatic pill dispensers

Prices shown include VAT and were correct at the time of our last update (February 2017). Products are rated as poor (☆☆☆), average (★☆☆), good (★★☆) or very good (★★★).

Pill boxes

Pillmate Day Out

Pillmate Day Out

Price £1.89
Features
  • 4 compartments
  • flip open
  • no record card
Summary
  • simple and cheap way to organise your pills for the day
  • compartments small and hard to open
Good if you... know what pills you have to take
Not good if you... have difficulty understanding - you could take your pills in the wrong order
Easy to use ★★★
Easy to understand how it works ★☆☆
Easy to fill ★★☆
Secure (if dropped) ★★★

Pillmate Large 7 Day

Pillmate Large 7 Day

Price £4.65
Features
  • 7 compartments
  • flip open
  • no record card
Summary
  • simple and cheap way to organise your pills for the week, if you only take them once a day
  • hard to open
Good if you... take daily supplements; also good if you are going on holiday, perhaps
Not good if you... have weak hands
Easy to use ★★☆
Easy to understand how it works ★★★
Easy to fill ★★★
Secure (if dropped) ★☆☆

Pillmate Twice Daily

Pillmate Twice A Day, openPillmate Twice A Day, closed

Price £7.00
Features
  • 7 x 2 compartments
  • flip open
  • no record card
Summary
  • simple and cheap way to organise your pills for the week, if you only take them twice a day
  • compartments small and hard to open
Good if you... are out and about a lot
Not good if you... have weak hands or have a visual impairment
Easy to use ★★★
Easy to understand how it works ★☆☆
Easy to fill ★★☆
Secure (if dropped) ★★★

Pillmate Multi Dose Weekly

Pillmate Multi Dose WeeklyPillmate Multi Dose Weekly, with tray out

Price £7.50
Features
  • 7 x 4 compartments
  • slide open
  • record card
Summary
  • simple and cheap way to organise your pills for the week
  • compartments quite small and hard to open
Good if you... get confused about your pills; also good if you use it at home, perhaps
Not good if you... have weak hands or have a visual impairment
Easy to use ★☆☆
Easy to understand how it works ★★★
Easy to fill ★★☆
Secure (if dropped) ★★★

Tabtime Wallet

Tabtime Wallet, closedTabtime Wallet, open

Price £6.99 - £17.99
Features
  • 7 x 4 compartments
  • flip open
  • no record card (though there is a pocket for one)
Summary
  • neat way to carry your pills for a week
  • easy to get your pills in and out
  • watch out for the daily boxes falling out of the wallet
Good if you... are out and about a lot
Not good if you... might get confused if the boxes fall out
Easy to use ★★★
Easy to understand how it works ★★☆
Easy to fill ★★★
Secure (if dropped) ★★★

Alarms

Cadex

Cadex digital watch

Price £59.95 - £143.99
Features
  • digital watch with 12 alarms
  • stores information about medical conditions, allergies, blood type, doctors name, contacts
Summary
  • discreet way to remind yourself of something, though you have to know what the alarm is for
  • doesn't store or organise pills
Good if you... have to do the same thing at regular intervals each day; also good if you don't hear well
Not good if you... might get confused
Easy to use ★★★
Easy to understand how it works ★☆☆
Easy to fill ★★★
Secure (if dropped) ★★★

Vibralite 8

Vibralite 8 digital watch

Price £55.14 - £66.00
Features
  • digital watch with 8 alarms and countdown timer
  • vibrating alarm
Summary
  • discreet way to remind yourself of something, though you have to know what the alarm is for
  • doesn't store or organise pills
Good if you... have to do the same thing at regular intervals each day; also good if you don't hear well
Not good if you... might get confused
Easy to use ★★★
Easy to understand how it works ★☆☆
Easy to fill ★★★
Secure (if dropped) ★★★

Mem-X

Le Mem-X, openLe Mem-X, closed

Price £110.40 - £203.94
Features
  • portable reminding device
Summary
  • very versatile - you can record up to 90 messages to play at fixed times daily, weekly or monthly or at one-off times and dates
  • doesn't store or organise pills
Good if you... have difficulty remembering things; also good for children
Not good if you... might get confused
Easy to use ★★★
Easy to understand how it works ★★☆
Easy to fill ★★☆
Secure (if dropped) ★★☆

Alarm systems (alarm + pill box)

PivoTell MiniTell

PivoTell MiniTell

Price £19.14 - £22.02
Features
  • 5 compartments
  • twist open
  • built-in clock with 5 alarms
  • vibrating alarm
  • no record card
Summary
  • neat way to take your pills out for the day, with a built-in alarm to remind you to take them
  • difficult to open
Good if you... can organise your own pills, and are out and about in the day
Not good if you... might get confused; have weak hands; or might drop it
Easy to use ★☆☆
Easy to understand how it works ★★★
Easy to fill ★★★
Secure (if dropped) ☆☆☆

Automatic pill dispensers

Medready

Medready, closedMedready, open

Price £318.76
Features
  • 28 compartments
  • automatic opening
  • 4 sound and light alarms
  • record card
  • lockable
  • mains operated (with backup battery)
  • telecare option
Summary
  • useful way of organising your pills a week or more in advance and
    reminding you when to take them
  • quite clear and easy to understand
  • not very flexible
  • very large (30cm / 12" across)
Good if you... are at home on your own much of the time, and need a lot of help remembering your pills
Not good if you... are out and about a lot
Easy to use ★★★
Easy to understand how it works ★★☆
Easy to fill ★★☆
Secure (if dropped) ★★☆

PivoTell MK3 Automatic Pill Dispenser

PivoTell Automatic Pill Dispenser, closedPivoTell Automatic Pill Dispenser, openPivoTell Automatic Pill Dispenser tray

Price £120.60
Features
  • 28 compartments
  • automatic opening
  • 4 sound and light alarms
  • record card
  • lockable
  • low-battery alert
  • telecare option
Summary
  • useful way of organising your pills a week or more in advance and reminding you when to take them
  • clear and easy to understand
  • not very flexible
  • you have to pick it up and tip it to get the pills out (though a tipper is available to help)
Good if you... are at home on your own much of the time, and need a lot of help remembering your pills
Not good if you... are out and about a lot
Easy to use ★★☆
Easy to understand how it works ★★☆
Easy to fill ★★★
Secure (if dropped) ★☆☆

 

Last updated: February 2017


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