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Helping care homes make medications safer

Written by: Tony Jamieson - 4th June 2020

Our Director of Transformation and Improvement explains how care homes across the country are under unprecedented pressure to look after the most vulnerable in our society.

Care homes must prevent the spread of COVID-19 while underpinning the NHS’s ability to keep the door open for routine care. This is on top of the everyday pressure of running a caring business under heavy financial pressure.

Routine business for care homes includes the management of medicines. Every day, multiple times a day, dedicated care home staff solve problems to do with medicines. Helping this resident to swallow their tablets; persuading another to accept their life saving insulin; running themselves ragged to get hold of any medicines that may be in short supply.

It’s hard work and brings with it many frustrations, for care home staff, the people they care for and the GPs and pharmacists they work with.

So, it is greatly to be welcomed that the NHS has been asked the family of pharmacy professionals to refocus swiftly and support care homes to manage medicines efficiently and safely at this time of greatest need. As a profession we can rise to the challenge in providing the help that care homes need.

It is vital we listen to the staff in the care homes so that we can complement their work and support the improvements that they want to make.

It would be easy to get distracted by the differences between how medicines are handled in hospital and how they are handled in care homes. They are very different places with very different contexts.

One resource that offers some insights for people supporting care homes for the first time is the report on Medicines Safety in Care Homes, produced by the Patient Safety Collaboratives that are delivered by the AHSNnetwork.

This report encompasses fact-finding from over 1,000 of all care homes in England. It highlights the difficulties faced by care homes and the issues they most want support with to get the right medicines to their residents.

The pharmacy professionals who are being mobilised to help, directed at the problems that have been shown to add pressure to care homes, can transform how the NHS and care sector can work together to deliver the best possible care, in a pragmatic and cooperative way.

Find out more about the report and download it.