NICE Sets Out Plans To Improve Quality Of Life For People Living In Care Homes Who Need Medication

Care homes across England should empower and support residents to make decisions about their own medicines, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has proposed.

The institute has developed a list of 9 draft statements – brought together as a quality standard – which it believes care homes should address if they are to provide residents with high quality care.

Based on NICE guidance, it advises care homes to put individuals at the heart of decisions about any medicines they may need and to support them wherever possible to administer medication themselves.

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 and improve their quality of life.”

The draft quality standard on managing medicines in care homes, which has been published for consultation, also sets out how care homes can avoid medication errors.

Mistakes in administering medicines are common, according to research over the last 5 years. In 2009, research showed that two thirds of the 256 care home residents involved in the study had been exposed to 1 or more medication errors[1]. Similarly, a 2011 study revealed that more than 90% of care home residents were exposed to at least 1 potential medication administration error over a 3-month period[2].

NICE published new guidance earlier this year recommending clear systems and processes to avoid such errors occurring. The draft quality standard builds on this and highlights the issue as a key area in need of improvement.

The standard also emphasises the importance of GP practices and care homes working together to promote best practice.

Professor Leng said: “This draft quality standard identifies a need for more person-centred care, better processes to avoid medication errors and integrated working between health and social care.

“What we now want to know from health and social care organisations is, have we got these priorities right?”

The public consultation on the draft quality standard will run until Friday 7 November 2014. It is expected to publish next March and will be the institute’s fourth quality standard for social care providers.

NICE was given responsibility for developing guidance and standards for the social care sector in April 2013 as a result of the government’s Health and Social Care Act (2012).