New medicines Charter supports better care home practice

The Patients Association has launched a care home Charter to improve medication practices for people living in care homes across the UK.

The Charter provides a nine-point guideline for care home staff to follow, stating that medicines should not be hidden by staff in food or drink, unless it is in a resident’s best interests and all legal requirements have been met. Other key points include that staff should ensure that an advance care home plan is in place for the resident, and that optimal oral and dental care is provided.

Following a pilot in 22 care homes, care home staff said it improved confidence in several areas including knowledge of how to identify swallowing problems, use of advanced care plans, administration of medicine, covert administration, and the laws underpinning these areas. Most respondents believed that the charter would increase involvement of residents in decision making, improving oral health, enhancing identification of swallowing problems, and improving the administration of medicine.

There is also a nine-point Charter for care home residents and their families, designed to promote and advance shared decision-making and improve patient safety. It emphases the importance of residents being involved in regular monitoring and review of medications, and states that medicines should only be given with a resident’s consent, unless they lack the capacity to provide it.

Research shows that care home residents are prescribed an average of 7.2 medications and seven out of 10 residents were found to have been exposed to at least one medication error. The Charter was developed by an expert panel including input from NHS England and the Care Quality Commission.

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “The Government predicts that by 2025 there will be two million people aged over 85 living in care homes, so it’s vitally important that medication practices are improved for both existing and future residents.”  

Other resources available from the Patients Association include:

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