Improving pharmaceutical care in Scottish care homes
I’m so pleased to see publication this week of the RPS Scotland report “Putting residents at the centre of pharmacy care home services1” which calls for positive action across Scottish health boards to improve safety and quality of medicines use in our care homes.
The report states that pharmaceutical care in care homes should be considered a specialist area and that it should be resourced accordingly. It recommends enhanced training for pharmacists and their teams and also for care staff, as well as opening up community pharmacy services like serial prescribing to care home residents.
Over many years working with care home services, I have seen the ever-increasing frailty and dependency levels of residents in long term care. This brings with it complicated medicines regimes and inappropriate polypharmacy. Pharmacist prescribers with appropriate training and experience, working as part of the multi-disciplinary team are well placed to improve safety and quality of prescribing in care homes and, in my experience, always a warmly welcomed resource for care home services.
Enhanced training for pharmacists working in care homes and improved medicines awareness and understanding for staff working there will improve safety and quality of life for residents. The report calls for standardised medicines training for care home staff which should improve consistency of standards in medicines administration. I’ve never seen a care service deliberately do a bad job of medicines administration, but issues are abundant when staff don’t know what they don’t know. The right support and education for care home staff can vastly improve processes and so, the experience of the person they are caring for.
Increased access to community pharmacy services like serial prescribing should improve efficiency in care homes and release more time for staff to care for their clients.
There are many positive themes in the report, and I hope it encourages increased pharmacy resource for care homes across Scottish Health Boards. Much pharmacy input to care homes from the managed service has been to target reduction in medicines waste but there is so much that can be done to improve the safety and quality of life of the people living there. And with safe and effective processes, the efficiencies will follow.
Some of the most vulnerable people in our communities are now living in our care homes rather than in long-term NHS care and to maintain a level of service designed before this was the case is to do these people a disservice. I look forward to seeing positive action and the positive outcomes that will follow.