Press release: a review of guidelines and qualitative study for supporting family carers of older people in community pharmacy

Project: Supporting family carers of older people in community pharmacy.

Pharmacy Research UK (PRUK) are delighted to announce the publication of research funded by the charity reviewing the current guidelines for community pharmacists when supporting family carers of older people. The aim of the research was to improve the understanding the current role of community pharmacists when supporting family members who assist older people with their medicines and to make recommendations to improve the support available to carers.

The key findings of the research were that there is a lack of policy guidance on how community pharmacists should involve carers; often family carers do not identify themselves as carers and pharmacists often do not know who helps the patient with their medicines. There are no identification protocols, nor a systematic method for recording carers.

In addition, while the pharmacist often sees the carer and not the patient, consent was not routinely being obtained from patients to share medicine information with carers. Policy guidance currently does not cover how pharmacists should obtain or record consent. This is compounded by carers using several pharmacies or patients having multiple carers. Most pharmacists who were interviewed said that they were ‘vaguely familiar’ with the guidance but had had no recent training.  Patient confidentiality and capacity were not well understood by pharmacists and there was a lack of awareness of the role of pharmacy services by patients and carers.

The report makes several recommendations, summarised as follows:

  1. A definition of carer is required that is helpful for pharmacy staff such as “a person who assists someone else with their medicines in any way”. This definition may also encourage people to seek help and advice even if they do not identify themselves as a carer.
  2. Pharmacies could collaborate, and possibly share records, with GP practices, where systems and approaches to identify carers are being developed.
  3. Raising awareness of how pharmacies could help those who help others with medicines by using local and national campaigns, voluntary organisations, libraries, local council websites and social media. Pharmacists could be more proactive in offering support to people who help others with medicines.
  4. Pharmacists would benefit from more detailed guidance as part of the code of ethics as to how they can support people who help others with medicines. Bespoke training programmes for pharmacists could be developed
  5. Further research is needed to develop feasible methods and a suitable tool for pharmacists to obtain consent to share information when the patient is not present.

For more information please contact PRUK at practice.research@rpharms.com

Notes to Editors

  1. PRUK is the principle funder of pharmacy research in the UK. Founded as a result of a merger in 2012 of two previous research funding charities, PRUK has a broad programme of research in place. PRUK funds both research projects and individual bursaries to improve skills across the pharmacy sector. Registered charity number 1148335.
  2. See the full research report
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