Care home sector ‘on the edge’, warns businessman

Older person in care home

Huge funding shortfalls for care homes are risking “catastrophic failure” in the NHS, a businessman expected to run what could become the biggest chain of care homes in the UK has warned.

In an interview with The Times newspaper, Chai Patel, chair of HC-One, a firm that is anticipated to take on up to 200 care homes in the UK from private health provider Bupa, warned that unless greater funding is poured into the care-home sector, the resulting pressure on the NHS will be enormous.

Patel told the paper the care-home sector was “on the edge”, but said larger care home providers could work more effectively to integrate with services provided by local authorities.

HC-One is currently Britain’s third biggest care-home operator with more than 230 care homes throughout the UK.

In a report, ‘The right medicine: improving care in care homes’, published in February 2016, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society called for greater pharmacist involvement in improving care for care-home residents.

It recommended that pharmacists should have overall responsibility for medicines and their use in care homes, with one pharmacist and one GP responsible for medicines in each care home. It also called on local commissioners to commission pharmacists to provide medicine reviews within care homes.

NHS England announced in 2016 that funding would be made available for workforce development for pharmacists who work in care homes, including a prescribing qualification, as part of its Pharmacy Integration Fund.

The Scottish Government’s strategy for the future of pharmacy ‘Achieving excellence in pharmaceutical care’, published on 21 August 2017, announced that the government would work with the chief officers of Joint Integrated Boards in Scotland to identify national approaches to improve NHS pharmaceutical care for residents in care homes.

Lelly Oboh, who works in the adult community health services run by Guys and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust in London, said people in nursing homes, rather than residential care homes, did sometimes experience difficulties in accessing regular NHS care. However, she said, this tended to be because pharmacy and GP services were provided to the home rather than the individual and not necessarily because of any lack of funding. 

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, August 2017;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203452