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Pharmacists should review care homes residents' medicine regimens to reduce polypharmacy

Published on 25/04/19 at 10:49am

Pharmacists should review older people’s medicines regimens in order to reduce inappropriate polypharmacy, according to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).

With long-term residents of care homes taking more than seven different medicines, the RPS have recommended that pharmacists dedicate time to patients in care homes in Scotland.

The report, published under the title ‘Putting residents at the centre of pharmacy care home services,’ sets out to improve the support given to older people in care homes in Scotland.

In doing this, the RPS report suggests regular medicines reviews in order to reduce the number of medicines being taken by each person.

There are currently more than 32,000 elderly care home residents in Scotland – a figure two and a half times more than the amount of acute hospital beds. Despite this, care homes are not prioritised as specialist areas within health and social care.  

Aileen Bryson, Deputy Director at RPS in Scotland, said: “Health policy 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.”

“Funding must be made available to provide residents with the highest standards of pharmaceutical care, led by pharmacists working with a multi-disciplinary team. 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,” Bryson added.

Irene Oldfather, Director of Strategy and Engagement at the ALLIANCE, said: "Regular medication reviews, taking into account the views of residents, their families and their carers will give people a far greater say in their care."

“Establishing one pharmacist as a first point of contact for all medication queries will also allow people to develop a relationship with those who deliver their care. Good care is incredibly dependent on good relationships, good conversations and asking, ‘What Matters to You?’

Louis Goss

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