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Innovative project to improve medicine management for the elderly

Thursday, 03 July, 2014
Innovative project to improve medicine management for the elderly

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is leading the way on a project that will help ensure elderly people living in care homes are taking the most effective combinations of medication and involving them in decisions about their care.

A team of various healthcare professionals including a psychiatry of old age consultant, a pharmacist, the local GP and care home nurses will work with care home residents and their families to review the medication they are currently taking and make joint decisions about any changes. 

Wasim Baqir, research and development pharmacist at Northumbria Healthcare, is managing the project: “Many older people take a large number of medicines, often prescribed over a number of years. While these medicines may have been the most appropriate at the time they were initially prescribed, without regular review they may end up taking medicines that they no longer need. This may be because their current condition means the medication isn’t doing the job it used to.

“These reviews will ensure that any medication is necessary and will highlight any alternative medication they should be taking whilst giving them a real voice in their care. It also has the potential to make a real impact in terms of reducing medicine waste in the NHS.”

The project, to be carried out across North Tyneside, follows on from a successful pilot that the Trust carried out with Anchor’s Walldene Court Care Home in Howdon. At the request of the care home, a pharmacist worked with the local GP to review the medication of every resident in the home, with startling results.

Care home manager Sandra Savage explains: “I requested a medication review as our residents were prescribed so much medication, some of which they didn’t seem to need any more. It was taking our nurses hours to do the rounds and there seemed to be a lot of waste. The results were amazing. We saw a 30% decrease in prescriptions and I saw first-hand how our residents improved as they were no longer on medication they didn’t need. They were livelier and eating and drinking more.

“I’m delighted to be part of this on-going project as it is such good practice. Anything that benefits my residents and frees up my nurses to concentrate on high quality care is to be welcomed.”

Northumbria Healthcare is the only trust in the region, and one of only 30 organisations nationally, to be awarded national funding by The Health Foundation as part of its Shine programme. This funding allows organisations to test innovative ideas which aim to improve the quality of healthcare.