More needs to be done to improve health care for the elderly in care homes

Section: Health and Social Care IntegrationType: News Item Date Published: 25th April 2019

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society publish new report setting out a vision for improving the care of residents in care homes across Scotland

There are over 32 000 elderly care home residents each night in Scotland, almost two and a half times the number of NHS acute hospital beds. Despite this, care homes are not prioritised or treated as a specialist area within health and social care.

Aileen Bryson, Deputy Director at Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Scotland, said: “Health policy rightly focuses on supporting people to live longer, healthier lives at home, or in a homely setting. As a result, the number of care home residents has decreased over the last ten years, but there has been a sharp increase in residents with physical disabilities and dementia. Anyone now entering a care home is generally frailer and nearer the end of their life than might have been the case previously. Residents often have several long-term conditions and take on average 7.2 medicines.”

The report, Putting residents at the centre of pharmacy care home services, recommends that care homes have dedicated time from pharmacists and their teams embedded in their service. It highlights the need for regular medication reviews to reduce inappropriate polypharmacy and improve quality of life for residents. It illustrates how input from the pharmacy team results in improved palliative care, fewer falls, fewer unplanned admissions to hospital, improved appetite and more socially active residents.

Ms Bryson continued: “Funding must be made available to provide residents with the highest standards of pharmaceutical care, led by pharmacists working with a multi-disciplinary team.

“A good quality of life in later life is just as important for residents of care homes as for those who continue to live in their own homes.”

Irene Oldfather, Director of Strategy and Engagement at the ALLIANCE, said: “The ALLIANCE’s first core principle is to put people at the centre and ensure their voices, expertise and rights drive policy and sit at the heart of design, delivery and improvement of support and services. With this in mind, we stand by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s call to put residents at the centre of pharmacy care home services.

“The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s new report makes a number of interesting and incredibly necessary recommendations.

“Regular medication reviews, taking into account the views of residents, their families and their carers will give people a far greater say in their care.

“And establishing one pharmacist as a first point of contact for all medication queries will also allow people to develop a relationship with those who deliver their care. Good care is incredibly dependent on good relationships, good conversations and asking, ‘What Matters to You?’

“Care of older people is something that is really close to my heart, so I’m really happy to endorse the recommendations in the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s new report.”

The report is available online at: (this link will take you away from our website)

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