Medicines management biggest problem for social care

Increase in the number of service users with multiple and complex conditions leading to problems for providers in managing medicines, says the Care Quality Commission.

Medication management has emerged as the area of greatest problem area for social care providers, according to Care Quality Commission inspectors.

It was the biggest area of non-compliance with essential standards among nursing homes, residential care homes and domiciliary care providers, said a CQC market report on inspections carried out from October 2010, when the current regulatory regime came into force, to March 2012.

A fifth of nursing homes did not meet the standard on medicine management, as did 16% of residential homes and domiciliary providers. The report said social care services were facing increasing challenges because of the significant growth in recent years in service users presenting with multiple health problems and requiring complex drug treatment.

Problems highlighted included the administration of medicines not being properly recorded, storage not being monitored in line with providers’ policies, a lack of staff training and inadequate information about medicines being given to staff and service users.

Record-keeping across all types of service and problems with the safety and suitability of care homes were also highlighted as issues for concern by the CQC’s data on non-compliance in the social care sector.

CQC director of operations Amanda Sherlock said inspectors were concerned about the deterioration of some care home buildings. “Often it’s just cosmetic, but occasionally it’s things that actually present a risk to people’s safety,” she said. “While difficult to evidence, it’s likely that increasing failure to address these kinds of problems is linked to increasing economic pressure within the system.” 

Of 11,800 social care premises inspected over the period, 72% were compliant with all essential standards.

The CQC said this would be the first in a series of quarterly publications that will track performance across health and social care and identify areas of concern. However, questions were raised by the United Kingdom Homecare Association about the focus of the report on non-compliance by providers.

“We hope that future issues of the CQC’s report will provide a genuine market analysis, which highlights not just levels of compliance but more detailed learning points for providers, including issues outside their direct control,” said UKHCA chief executive Bridget Warr. “To do this the CQC must be prepared to comment on how services are commissioned by the statutory sector.”

The CQC ceased inspecting and assessing the quality of local authority commissioning of adult social care in November 2010.

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