A mixed method investigation of community pharmacists’ delivery of palliative care services

Elizabeth Miller, University of Sheffield

Community pharmacists are healthcare professionals at the heart of the community who provide access to medicines and healthcare advice without an appointment. Greater involvement by community pharmacists could support the increasing number of people with palliative care needs due to changes in life expectancy and an increasing number of deaths at home or in care homes. However, little is known about the community pharmacist’s role in palliative care and those factors that facilitate or inhibit their involvement. This study investigates the community pharmacist’s involvement in palliative care to make recommendations to those commissioning palliative and end-of-life services.

This study was conducted in Sheffield, England where the researcher works as a palliative care pharmacist at a hospice. Sheffield has a higher than England average deaths in hospital rather than at home or in a care home and a good coverage of community pharmacies across the city, some of which provide enhanced access to palliative care medicines towards the end-of-life.

A mixed methods study was undertaken to collect quantitative data (prescription data and a customer survey) as well as qualitative data (healthcare professionals’ views and experiences) to investigate the community pharmacist’s role in palliative care. Patient’s views and experiences were not sought in this study due to ethical permission constraints and difficulties in obtaining patient views through contact at a community pharmacy. Patient carers often manage medications for patients as they progress towards the end-of-life and patients may be too unwell to visit a pharmacy or undertake surveys.

This project ran from January to March 2018. The full final report is available here.