A Welsh government proposal for pharmacists to visit patients in their homes has received the backing of the country's commissioner for older people.
The recommendation, proposed by the Welsh Pharmaceutical Committee (WPC) and supported by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), could lead to better care and fewer incidents of harm for elderly patients, said Sarah Rochira, an independent champion of these patients.
The WPC outlined the plans for pharmacists to regularly visit patients with "supported living needs" in a report published last Wednesday (October 15) on the future of pharmacy in the country. It also recommended that community pharmacists should be responsible for prescribing medicines to patients with chronic conditions and create pharmaceutical care plans to monitor patients' medicines.
Patients with "supported living needs", whether living independently or in a care home, should expect "the same right to access pharmacy services, coaching and advice" as any other patient, the WPC said in the report. "Trigger points" should also be placed in the NHS to increase the level of pharmacy input into the care of these patients if it was needed, it said.
Although the sector must consider "financial constraints" when planning to provide care outside of the pharmacy, home visits would save the NHS money by reducing hopsital admissions of elderly patients who were not compliant with their medication or had suffered a fall, Ms Rochira told C+D last week (October 16).
The commissioner was "absolutely sure" that home visits would be appreciated by older people, as they valued health professionals who would "go that extra mile" to provide care. It was important that older people not only felt safe, but had the ability to live independently, she added.
Ms Rochira named community pharmacy as "an asset" for older people in Wales, as two thirds of this group had a chronic health condition. Pharmacies were able to provide information and advice to these patients and were also in a position to identify when they should seek further support, she stressed.
RPS president Ash Soni told C+D it was "absolutely" feasible for pharmacists to visit patients in their homes as long as pharmacy teams were managed effectively. But it "wasn't possible" to expect just one pharmacist to add the service to their workload and pharmacies should utilise the skills of the surplus of trained pharmacists, he said.
The RPS stressed that the report was intended as a vision document and the practical implementation of its recommendations, such as funding, would be determined by individual NHS health boards.