‘Disappointingly slow’ progress in homes’ management of medicines

Care and children’s homes have failed to sufficiently improve their management of medicines in the two years since a damning report on their performance.

In a critical follow-up study this week, the Commission for Social Care Inspection said many of the faults outlined by predecessor body the National Care Standards Commission in its 2004 report were still prevalent.

These included dispensing the wrong medicine to residents, poor record-keeping, and medication being handled by unqualified staff.

The report says 47 per cent of children’s homes, 44.5 per cent of older people’s homes and 38.5 per cent of homes for younger adults failed to meet the national minimum standard for managing medicines in 2004-5.

The CSCI described progress overall as “disappointingly slow”, but said children’s homes had shown the biggest improvement since the NCSC report, which covered 2002-3, with a 19 per cent increase in those meeting the standard.

Younger adults’ homes had shown an almost 16 per cent improvement, but there had been just an 11 per cent rise in older people’s homes meeting the standard.

The report says performance in nursing, as opposed to residential, homes for older people and younger adults had “stagnated” since 2002-3.

The CSCI said that the £48m assigned to local authorities to train care workers in managing medication since 2003 had made no impact. It called for all homes to “urgently” review their medication policies and councils to monitor how training grants are used.

It said primary care trusts, which have a statutory duty to oversee health standards in homes, should give a higher priority to monitoring medication management and said the Healthcare Commission had agreed to assess PCTs on this.

The CSCI also called on the National Patient Safety Agency to extend the support it provided to NHS organisations to voluntary and private sector homes.

Sheila Scott, chief executive of the National Care Homes Association, said the report was an “indictment of all of us involved in social care”.

She said the crux of the problem was the absence of a government-backed training course for care workers. The association now plans to put together a course for its

But David Congdon, Mencap’s head of campaigns and policy, said: “It isn’t just a matter of training. It’s about changing the culture of homes and organisations so that all staff are aware of how important it is to get medication right.”

  • Handled with Care from www.csci.org.uk
  • More from Community Care

    Comments are closed.