What are the benefits of having a pharmacist in a care home?

By Sandra Gidley, Chair of RPS England

I’m delighted that NHS England, through the Pharmacy Integration Fund, have invested in creating 180 new jobs for pharmacists and 60 for technicians in care homes across the country.  There are huge benefits for residents in having a pharmacist involved in reviewing their medicines.

The average age of residents in care homes for the elderly is now 85 and they are prescribed an average of 7 or 8 medicines a day, though there are many are on more than that.  Those medicines can bring side-effects which in turn lead to loss of quality of life, so by rationalising those medicines, very often reducing the number taken, people feel better and the NHS saves money too.

Team work

Integration is a new buzzword which is the direction of travel for NHS delivery of health services. Pharmacists and technicians are a key part of the multidisciplinary team of GPs, nurses, geriatricians, and care home staff that look after residents. We need to all work together to provide residents with specialist clinical medication reviews to keep them from harm and keep them out of hospital. Here’s a great example of a care home pharmacist who is part of these reviews in the E & N Hertfordshire vanguard programme.

Residents’ relatives are also vital to such reviews and a very positive consequence is that their relationships with their loved ones often improve as a result of medication changes as the resident feels better and can be more communicative. The overall results in E&N Herts are astounding.  Since December 2015, their care home pharmacy team reviewed 1,426 residents and 13,786 medicines, stopped 2,238 unnecessary medicines including 681 with a falls risk, saved £354,498 in drug costs and an estimated £650,000 in hospital admission costs. They’ve also made a video about the way the vanguard programme was set up and the impact it had.

Challenging ourselves

By investing in pharmacists, commissioners are investing in their older, vulnerable populations and in better outcomes for patients.  By challenging ourselves to work in different ways and across traditional boundaries, we can grow as professionals, be part of a new way of working that enables us to demonstrate the benefits pharmacy can bring and deliver a better standard of care than ever before. It’s not always easy to do this, but it’s essential. Provision of services by pharmacists across settings is the game changer that NHS organisations are working towards.

Our Regional Liaison Pharmacists

RPS England has just appointed four Regional Liaison Pharmacists, who will be approaching local Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships amongst others to ensure they understand the contribution that pharmacists can make to the health needs of their local populations and so provide services that fit local needs. They will also discuss new integrated ways of working and ensure that pharmacists are part of this, including these new opportunities in care homes.

New jobs

I’ve received many requests for information about the new roles in care homes and these are still being worked on by NHS England.  I suggest keeping an eye on www.jobs.nhs.uk and of course the RPS will keep you up to date on developments.

 

The important thing to remember is: VOTE!

by Chris Bonsell, Locum Pharmacist and RPS West Yorkshire Steering Group Member

Benjamin Franklin once mused ‘Nothing can be certain, except death and taxes’. If he was alive today he might have included: …and nothing can be certain in the outcome of this year’s English Pharmacy Board elections! This year we see 14 nominations for only four substantive vacancies to the EPB.

Pharmacy has been going through great change for many years and the way we work is very different now from 10 years ago or even 5 years ago. Pharmacists are now more clinically focused, working in new and emerging roles and are leaders within systems and organisations which at one time would have seemed unthinkable. We play a more pivotal role in patient-centred care, educating the public and in the prevention of disease.

Members of the EPB have a responsibility to be effective in their representation of all pharmacists across all sectors and to be vanguards of the profession. They should be inspirational not only to those who elected them but also to pharmacists throughout the country still to join the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Read more The important thing to remember is: VOTE!

Community Pharmacy Forward View

Sandra Gidley 3By Sandra Gidley, Chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board

You may know about the NHS Five Year Forward View, published in 2014, which outlined the future of the NHS in a world where people are living longer with complex health needs.

The Community Pharmacy Forward View, published today, aims to provide a sense of direction and vision for community pharmacy aligned with the ambitions of the NHS. Read more Community Pharmacy Forward View

Prescribing for people with learning disabilities must change

Sandra Gidley 3by Sandra Gidley, Chair, English Pharmacy Board

Early last week three separate reports from the Care Quality Commission, Public Health England and NHS Improving Quality were released and painted a poor and depressing picture of the level of prescribing of antipsychotics and antidepressants in those with learning disabilities.

Following the release of the reports, I co-signed, on behalf of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, a letter from NHS England stating that the scale of the problem was unacceptable and that an emergency summit was being arranged to agree how to tackle the problem. The letter was also signed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal College of Nursing. Read more Prescribing for people with learning disabilities must change