An innovative project helping care home residents get more involved in decisions about their medication has won a national award.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust scooped the audience choice honour at the Pharmaceutical Care Awards 2014 for the project, which has also reduced the amount of unnecessary medicines taken by residents.
The project involved a team of NHS professionals and care home nurses working with residents and their families to review the medication they are taking and make joint decisions about any changes.
David Campbell, chief pharmacist and clinical director for medicines management at the trust, said: “To be voted the overall winner from all the outstanding projects at the awards is a massive endorsement for the team and the trust.
“We are very proud of this project and the amazing results it has had in terms of involving care home residents in decisions about their medication and reducing the amount of unnecessary medication that is being prescribed.
“It is also a great example of partnership working across the NHS involving hospital and care home staff and GPs working together.”
The project involved clinical pharmacists from Northumbria Healthcare reviewing the appropriateness of residents’ medications with findings discussed by a multidisciplinary team including the pharmacist and a care home nurse, with input from the resident and/or their family/advocate and, where possible, a GP.
The review process helped to reduce unnecessary prescribing across care homes – for the 422 residents reviewed, 1,346 changes to medications were made, the majority of which involved stopping medicines.
These interventions helped to reduce the overall yearly medicines budget by nearly £78,000 across the project.
Dr Wasim Baqir, research and development pharmacist at Northumbria Healthcare, who worked on the project, said that for every £1 invested in the review process, £2.38 could be released from the medicines budget.
“There is now a huge opportunity for the NHS to optimise the medicines review process and expand this approach to all older patients, including people living in sheltered housing or in their own homes,” said Dr Baqir.
“However the part we’re most proud of is managing to give patients a voice. At Northumbria Healthcare we’re passionate about listening to our patients and in this project we’ve developed a model that really puts patients at the heart of the review process.
“Patient involvement must be seen as part of standard review practice. Not just the cherry on the cake, but an integral part of the cake itself.”