The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Wales is calling for the next Welsh government to enable pharmacists to use their expertise to improve care for care home residents in Wales.
The recommendations, published in an RPS Wales report entitled ‘Improving medicines use for care homes residents’ on 1 March 2016, include pharmacists carrying out annual medication reviews with residents and being involved in care home inspections.
“Care home residents often take a combination of medicines for a number of different conditions,” explains Suzanne Scott-Thomas, chair of the RPS Welsh Board. “A pharmacist who is responsible for the use of medicines in care homes as part of the healthcare team could review these complex medicines, identify any that are no longer needed, and make sure that residents are getting the best out of their medicines,” she adds.
The RPS Wales report was developed in response to ‘A place to call home?’, a review conducted by Sarah Rochira, the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales. The review raised specific concerns on issues such as medications being prescribed incorrectly, delays in the transfer of medical records and the prevalence of prescribing antipyschotics among residents living with dementia.
Source: RPS Wales
“My care home review laid down a challenge to many bodies across Wales: stop failing older people,” Rochira says. “I am delighted that the RPS has responded so positively to it. Pharmacists are key to ensuring that older people are not only safe in care homes, but also are able to have the very best possible quality of life. They should be seen as an integral part of the care and support team.”
The RPS report addresses concerns laid out by Rochira’s review by describing how the expertise of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians could be integrated into the multidisciplinary care home team. The report identifies five key areas to improve the care, safety and quality of medicines use for residents: polypharmacy; antipsychotic prescribing; safe transfer of information; education training and standards; and palliative and end-of-life care.
The report also features contributions from the Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Psychiatrists emphasising the value of including pharmacists in the care home team.
“Polypharmacy is an area where the unique contribution of our pharmacist colleagues is valued in a joint approach to manage patient caseloads in collaboration with GPs,” says Rebecca Payne, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners Wales. “The complexity of older people’s health needs and the need to treat co-morbidities often leads to increased drug interventions. Patient safety must be improved through greater collaboration and coordination across the multidisciplinary team in addressing polypharmacy issues.”
Grant Duncan, deputy director for primary care in Welsh government, was also at the launch.“This policy is about individual peoples and their needs. About dignity and respect. We all have a key role to play,” he says.“The commitment is there from Welsh government for this agenda and it is something we want to make a difference on.”