Maximising access to medicines for children: Setting up “Pill School” within the NHS to train and support young patients to take tablets and capsules

Setting up a Pill School within the NHS to train and support young patients to take tablets and capsules

Dr Asia Rashed, Kings College London

Whilst adults are usually given tablets or capsules, children are most often given oral liquid medicines. However there is evidence to show that children are capable of swallowing tablets and capsules from a young age, particularly if they are taught how to do it. There are problems associated with the use of Liquid medicines: short expiry, unpleasant taste, measuring the right volume of the medicine, inconvenient to store and carry, and cost (e.g. a bottle of warfarin liquid, costs £100, 28 tablets of warfarin cost less than £2). Using a tablet or capsule can reduce these disadvantages.

Dr Rashed aims to test the possibility of developing and establishing a Pill School within a NHS hospital to provide swallowing training sessions to children. Also, we want to find out how many children, at the study site, can be swapped from liquid medicines to tablets/capsules, and if the child and their parent/carer as well as healthcare professionals involved in the project like the change and continue to use the tablet/capsule.

This project will be conducted in a children’s hospital in England. To complete the project they will:

1) Develop the intervention of a swallowing training sessions (called Pill School) programme, prepare and train Pill School teachers who will teach and train children swallowing techniques. Pill School educational booklet will also be prepared to be given children and their parents/carers after
attending swallowing training session to make sure they continue on tablets when they go home.
2) Introduce swallowing training sessions to children (aged 3-18 years) and their parents/carers, to enable them to make the switch from liquids to tablets/capsules safely. Thirty children will be entered into the study while they are in hospital.
3) Ask parents/carers and their children (if old enough and willing to participate/answer questions), after they go home, what they think about Pill School using telephone interview.
4) Ask healthcare professionals involved in the feasibility project (Pill School teachers, doctors, nurses) about their experience and views regarding the proposed intervention.

Throughout the project Dr Asia will work with Parent and Young Persons’ Advisory Groups to guide her team and help tell others their findings. The team believe that the impact of this project will have immediate benefits to the children and their parents/carers and also will have a national impact on the NHS within a short time-frame.

The findings of this project will be used to conduct further research to see if Pill School can be integrated, run successfully and sustained across the NHS in order to save money.

The project was awarded funding in September and is due to run for 18 months.

For more information see the detailed project description for more information.