Call for dedicated care home pharmacists

Move would reduce over-medication and improve residents’ care, Royal Pharmaceutical Society Scotland says

Monday 13th May 2019

The professional body for pharmacists is calling on the Scottish Government to pay for care homes to have dedicated in-house pharmacists to improve residents’ care.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland (RPS) says input from pharmacy teams can bring a raft of benefits, including improved appetite and more socially active residents.

The Scottish Government says it is committed to working with health and care partnerships to improve pharmaceutical care for care home residents.

With care home residents taking an average of seven medicines, medicines prescribers embedded in homes can reduce over-medication and improve quality of life.  

The suggestion comes as NHS England reveals plans to recruit 200 new pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to tackle over-medication in care residences for older people.

RPS believes the same approach should be taken in Scotland. Alex MacKinnon, Scottish director, says: “Health policy in Scotland rightly focuses on supporting people to live longer, healthier lives at home, or in a homely setting. As a result, the number of care home residents has decreased over the last ten years, but there has been a sharp increase in residents with physical disabilities and dementia.

“Anyone now entering a care home is generally frailer and nearer the end of their life than might have been the case previously. Residents often have several long-term conditions and take on average 7.2 medicines.”

A recent report by the group said input from pharmaceutical teams should become routine in older people’s care homes, claiming regular medication reviews would ‘improve the quality and safety of patient care’.

Under the proposals, residents would benefit from a familiar first-point of call for any questions about their medicines.

Mr MacKinnon adds: “We would urge the Scottish Government to ensure that care home residents have the highest standards of pharmaceutical care, led by pharmacists working with a multi-disciplinary team.  Community pharmacists are well placed to support care homes and their residents and we would recommend that Scottish Government enables and encourages more collaboration in this area.

“A good quality of life in later life is just as important for residents of care homes as for those who continue to live in their own homes.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We welcome this contribution from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.  Our Achieving Excellence in Pharmaceutical Care strategy contains the commitment to improving the pharmaceutical care of residents in care homes and people being cared for in their own homes.

“Our focus is on ensuring safe, effective and person-centred pharmaceutical care and safer use of medicines are core components of health and care social services in all settings. These settings include care homes and those requiring more care at home.”