Money from the Pharmacy Integration Fund to enable pharmacists to carry out medicines optimisation in care homes is a great opportunity, says Sarah Crotty, head of pharmacy and medicines optimisation at Herts Valleys CCG

Community pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can now take up clinical roles in care homes following the release of this funding. In all, there will be 240 posts for pharmacists and technicians.

These roles demand a multidisciplinary approach and will provide improved healthcare by bringing together a range of health professionals. Because the posts will make large savings and reduce hospital admissions, GPs feel they add value and are supportive of the role.

Good clinical skills are a key competency. The needs of care home residents are increasingly complex and a wide experience of a variety of clinical areas is required to enable thorough medication reviews.

Great communication and negotiation techniques will help get the best for patients by enabling effective communication with GPs, care home managers, residents and staff.

Training

CPPE, with funding from the integration fund, is now offering training in preparation for this role. Learning from members of your team and from peers is key. Working in multidisciplinary teams is rewarding, although teams often change. The flexibility to learn on the job and ability to acquire new skills that can then be used when reviewing patients’ medication in other care homes is how these roles should work.

Pharmacist roles

  • Review medication in the frail elderly
  • Optimise medicines to reduce polypharmacy
  • Reduce errors and adverse drug reactions
  • Review the systems and processes around medicines administration in care homes
  • Support residents to understand their medicines better
  • Prevent hospital admissions
  • Identify and train/signpost carers to training.

It is exciting that a cornerstone of this new role is integrated working with CCG specialist care home improvement team nurses, dietitians, mental health and secondary care professionals, GPs and others.

Technician roles

Examples of areas technicians might tackle include:

  • Reviewing fridge use, ensuring maximum and minimum thermometer readings are taken each day and recorded, and that if out-of-range the home knows what to do
  • Tackling over-ordering and synchronising medicines quantities
  • Helping staff to carry items forward to reduce over-ordering and waste.

It is an exciting time for the profession. I do hope these clinical development opportunities are grasped and some community pharmacists are able to get out of their dispensaries and into care homes.

For more information about the UKCPA, click here.

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