Care home staff should place residents at the heart of decisions about their medication and support them to administer it themselves where possible, according to new draft quality standards from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
The guidance, which looks at medicine management in care homes and was put out to consultation today, said that self-administration was important for helping those living in care homes to be independent.
The document – called Managing Medicines in Care Homes – advises care home staff to carry out risk assessments to determine how much support each resident would need in administering their own medication. It highlights that a resident may be able to manage one type – such as oral tablets – but not others, such as eye drops.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “Children, young people and adults living in care homes often have complex health issues and can be more vulnerable than other people. Because of this, care homes may decide that decisions about medication are best made by staff. However, this may not necessarily be true.
“Evidence shows that involving people in decisions about their own care and supporting them to take an active role in managing their medicines can help them feel valued”
“Evidence shows that involving people in decisions about their own care and supporting them to take an active role in managing their medicines can help them feel valued and improve their quality of life,” she said.
In its guidance, NICE also provides advice on avoiding medication errors in care homes.
It said that GPs should provide a “clear written process” when prescribing medicines to care home residents.
The guidance pointed to a study from 2009 – called the Care Home Use of Medicines Study – which found more than a third of care home residents experienced at least one prescribing error, most commonly due to incomplete information on prescriptions.
NICE also emphasised the need for accurate medicine records on the day of transfer into a care home, and good communication between providers of health and social care as being key to avoiding medication errors when a patient was transferred.
At least one multidisciplinary medication review every year should take place for residents, the guidelines added, in order “to help to identify issues with medicines before they can cause harm”.
A public consultation on the draft quality standard will run until 7 November, with final guidance expected in March 2015.