By Patricia Ojo, Pharmacist Independent Prescriber at Stevens Pharmacy
Palliative and end of life care focuses on improving the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses. We community pharmacists in the UK play an essential role in supporting patients who require this kind of care by providing medicines and advice, and support to patients and their caregivers.
In this blog, I’ll outline the holistic care community pharmacists can provide for patients needing palliative and end of life care, and why we are working through the RPS/Marie Curie UK self-assessment framework called The Daffodil Standards.
Medicines management for effective palliative care
Medicines management is a crucial aspect of palliative and end of life care. We work with other healthcare professionals such as GPs and nurses to ensure that patients receive the correct medicines, at the right dose and at the right time. We can also provide advice on managing any side effects from these medicines and help patients to manage their symptoms effectively.
Pain management and supportive strategies
Pain management is a critical aspect of care, relieving stress as well as symptoms from illness. Such medicines may cause side effects, but Pharmacists can also provide advice on pain management techniques, such as heat and cold therapies and relaxation techniques. All of these techniques are non-pharmacological approaches, helping to improve the quality of a patient’s life.
Supporting patients and caregivers in palliative and end-of-life care
Some people have palliative care for many years. End of life care differs, as it offers treatment and support for people who are near the end of their life. I’m proud that we work hard to provide valuable support to our patients and their caregivers approaching this stage of life.
We offer advice on managing symptoms such as breathlessness, anxiety, and agitation, which can be challenging for both the patient and their caregiver. We can also provide advice on medication changes and adjustments to treatment made by the patient’s care team.
Pharmacy Quality Scheme
By joining the Pharmacy Quality Scheme and prioritising consistent care, we have improved access to palliative and end of life medicines. We achieve this by offering a broader selection of palliative medicines beyond the basic essentials.
Daffodil Standards for enhanced palliative care
To support and continuously improve what we do, we’re now starting to work through the RPS Daffodil Standards. These have been produced in partnership with end-of- life charity Marie Curie UK and are quality improvement standards in palliative and end of life care for community pharmacy that will help us support our patients better. Ideally, we want to help normalise this aspect of care so we provide even better compassionate, person centred care to patients living with an advanced serious illness or at the end of their lives, along with their carers.
Marie Curie UK also provides resources which can be provided to patients and their families or carers, further supporting them to cope better with their illness/circumstances. We are looking forward to making progress and the next step is to decide on an area of focus for development.
Sign up for free to the Daffodil Standards.
Read more RPS blogs.