Welsh Assembly Members told about work of RPS on anti-psychotic medication

06 Dec 2016

“I asked all bodies to step up – they absolutely did step up” the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales on the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Members of the Welsh Assembly’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee have been hearing of the activity of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales (RPS Cymru Wales) to reduce inappropriate use of antipsychotic medicines and wider issues around medicines management in Care Homes. During an evidence session on 1 December with the Older People’s Commissioner, Sarah Rochira, on her annual report for 2015-2016 where she highlighted the partnership work between her and RPS Wales.

During her evidence, Ms Rochira emphasised the value of the RPS Cymru Wales’s “real knowledge and expertise” on this important agenda. She stated that “What I’ve been so pleased about is the extent to which so many partners stepped up after I published my review, and one of them was the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. And they’ve made the focus of their work over the last year the better management of medicines, and that includes antipsychotics in care homes. They’ve been out there, because actually they’re the experts, they’re really knowledgeable on this, working with health boards and providers across Wales to grow and improve practice. And because they’ve been doing that, I do expect to see a very significant step-up.”

Asked whether health boards have been able to provide exact data on the numbers of older people being prescribed antipsychotics, Ms Rochira noted that “they’ve had an opportunity to do that, both in terms of what we found in the review and I think the outstandingly good work done by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. And if you’ve not seen their guidance, it’s well worth reading. I asked all bodies to step up – they absolutely did step up, they have focused their work around this issue of medicines management, and I’m really grateful to them because I’m not an expert on medicines management or antipsychotic drugs. The thing I know is that we’re not getting its right, they’ve been helping to get it right and I expect to see that evidence from health boards when I go back.”

RPS Cymru Wales’s engagement with the Older People’s Commissioner began in 2014 following the publication of the report, A Place to call Home, that aimed to ensure that quality of life sits at the heart of residential care in Wales. The report raised specific concerns on the prevalence on antipsychotic prescribing among residents living with dementia as well as on medications being prescribed incorrectly leading to potentially dangerous polypharmacy.

RPS Cymru Wales developed its policy, Improving Medicines Use for Care Home Residents and offered solutions that could be provided by the pharmacy profession to address the concerns raised in A Place to Call Home. Since the policy’s publication RPS Wales staff, board members and the policy steering group chair, Tim Banner, have been taking forward a programme of activity to engage with government and local health board officials and other key stakeholder to make the 11 policy recommendations become reality.

Director of RPS Cymru Wales, Mair Davies commented; “I am very pleased to see our work on care homes recognised by the Older People’s Commissioner at the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee. Involvement from our profession in the care of care home residents is vital to ensure that this vulnerable section of society do not come to any harm and get the best results from their medicines. Ensuring these recommendations are implemented across Wales is our challenge and we will continue to work with health board officials and other key stakeholders to make these improvements for care home residents a reality”.