Steps to help care homes improve the way they manage residents’ medicines and provide them with a better quality of life have been published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
More than 350,000 people in England and Wales live in a care home and mistakes in administering medicines were “not uncommon”, said NICE.
It cited a 2011 study that showed that 90% of care home residents were exposed to at least one potential medication administration error over a three-month period.
The new NICE quality standard for managing medicines in care homes, published today, highlights this as a key issue in need of urgent improvement.
It lists actions that should be taken to ensure that all necessary practitioners are aware of residents’ needs and can administer the right medicines to the right person at the right time.
These include that all health or social care service providers send a discharge summary, including details of the person’s current medicines, with a person who transfers to or from a care home.
“Better communication… will ensure that people get the right medication at the right time in the way they choose”
Prescribers responsible for people living in care homes should provide “comprehensive” instructions for using and monitoring all newly-prescribed medicines, and a multidisciplinary team should undertake medication reviews for care home residents.
The quality standard also said that residents who wish to self-administer their own medicines should be supported to do so, as long as it does not put them or others at risk. It cited this as a key factor for improving the quality of life of people living in care homes.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “The standards contain practical statements to help health and social care providers, practitioners and commissioners assess and improve the quality of care they deliver in key areas.
“They highlight the need for the health and social care sectors to work together where possible to ensure people receive the best quality care,” she said.
Juliette Millard, a nursing advisor at the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability UK, said: “We welcome the new NICE quality standard on medicines management, which will support disabled and older people living in care homes to make informed, independent choices about their medication and health.
“Better communication between health professionals, care staff and the people they support will ensure that people get the right medication at the right time in the way they choose,” she said.
“This will not only improve individual health and wellbeing for the thousands of people living in care homes but will increase standards of safety and quality across the system,” she added.