Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Palliative care & the pharmacy team – so much to offer

Elen Jones, Director for Wales at RPSby Elen Jones, RPS Director for Wales

Pharmacy has a key role to play in supporting patients and their families, as well as other professions, in the delivery of palliative and end of life services in both community and secondary care. I’ve had the privilege of leading projects at RPS to improve the care pharmacy teams provide to patients approaching the end of life and feel there’s a lot of untapped potential in the profession that could benefit patients.

People living with life-limiting conditions who are approaching the end of life must have timely access to medicines and clinical support from a skilled pharmacy team. Patients should expect to experience high quality, coordinated care with access to the full range of pharmacy expertise to maximise their safe and appropriate use of medicines, regardless of where they are receiving their care. Yet we all know from professional and personal experience that this doesn’t always happen.

Community pharmacy

Community pharmacists have so much to offer as patients will often be familiar with their pharmacy team and already trust their advice. Community pharmacies can build on this to provide both the advice patients need on the safe and effective use of medicines at the end of life, and the support that they, their families and carers need too.

Our new Daffodil Standards help community pharmacy teams to self-assess against a free, evidence-based framework and through continuous learning and simple quality improvement steps provide the best possible end of life and bereavement care.

The Standards identify and build on the good work you’re already doing and are the result of our partnership with the UK’s leading end of life charity Marie Curie, whose iconic image is the daffodil.

If you sign up to the Daffodil Standards you’ll be able to display the ‘daffodil mark’ as a sign of your commitment to improving the care you provide as you work through the free support pack,

Secondary care

Pharmacists should be embedded in all multidisciplinary palliative care teams to input expertise on prescribing, deprescribing and use of medicines. Pharmacists and the pharmacy team have particularly important roles following a patient’s diagnosis of a palliative illness to ensure that the medicines regimen is optimised, as well as to help coordinate the care and medicines supply for patients as they move from one care setting to another.

The scope of palliative care is wide, with an ageing population, there are more patients requiring palliative care input than ever before. Pharmacy can contribute to this challenge. In Wales, the All Wales Palliative Care Pharmacist Group work to address these challenges, by sharing good practice and bringing together pharmacists with a role or particular interest in palliative care.

Education and training in palliative and end of life care for pharmacists should be strengthened to support the development of advanced roles. Pharmacists in all care settings should keep up to date with best practice approaches and be equipped to confidently discuss options about care in the end of life phase with patients.

We need to build on these foundations to ensure pharmacy can fulfil its potential for palliative care patients and continues to develop expertise to benefit patients at this challenging stage of life. 

Sign up to our Daffodil Standards.

Read our policy Palliative and end of life care.

Read more RPS blogs


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