Care Homes and COVID-19: Advice and support

Tiffany Barrett, Interim co-director, South West Medicines Information and Training, NHS England SouthPublished

Care home staff and residents, and the pharmacy teams supporting them, will need information and support to ensure the safe and effective use of medicines. Below are some useful resources for answering medicines related queries and contacts if further advice is required:


There are too many resources available to healthcare professionals to list them all here. However, the resources below will give you some good ideas on where to start.

SPS website

The SPS website has a lot of resources that are useful for answering questions about medicines. Some documents, for example the stock shortages information, are only visible to NHS healthcare professionals who have logged in – so make sure you sign up to the website in order to get the enhanced access. Useful resources on the SPS website include –

The SPS website has a number of resources that you might find useful including:

Access to Medicines Complete

  • Pharmacy teams working into care homes from GP practices across England will be able to access useful resources of Medicines Complete (including the Palliative Care Formulary, Stockley’s Drug Interactions and Drug Administration via Enteral Feeding Tubes) with a free NHS OpenAthens account. Information on how to get this access as well as other resources required to answer queries from care homes can be found here

The NHS website

The NHS website presents information in a readily accessible format designed for sharing with patients. There are 3 main sections –

  • Medicines A-Z – medicines leaflets written by colleagues within SPS, designed by and for patients.
  • Health A-Z – for summary information on a range of conditions
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) – the latest NHS information and advice

Care Quality Commission (CQC) Medicines: information for adult social care services by care type setting

Our summary

CQC has produced a really helpful range of Q&As about Coronavirus (COVID-19) generally in adult social care settings and care homes specifically. Topics covered include –

There are lots more areas discussed that will be of interest to those working with and in care homes.

British Geriatric Society (BGS) Coronavirus and older people

Our summary

The BGS has created a resource summarising current advice from experts within the organisation relating to coronavirus and older people. This resource is evolving. It includes sections on

  • Managing the COVID-19 pandemic in care homes
  • Geriatric basics for non-specialists
  • End of life care in older people

Contacts for advice

Care homes poster – RPS/SPS

  • The Royal Pharmaceutical Society, in conjunction with SPS, has created a poster for you to use in the care homes you work with. The poster allows you to display the contact details of your local pharmacy team who can help with medicines queries in care homes. Download the poster here

Medicines Information services

  • Information and advice on any aspect of medicines can be obtained from regional and local medicines information (MI) services.
  • Colleagues are here to help: you can find the contact details of your regional MI centre here (note that these services are open during usual office hours). Local NHS Trust MI services can be contacted through the Trust switchboard.
  • Local NHS Trust MI services are predominantly available to deal with enquiries about patients who have recently been seen within the Trust. Some local MI services may provide a patient helpline
  • Regional MI services provide support when standard resources aren’t sufficient or the query is complex. Regional MI service answer queries about medicines for healthcare professionals, who then put that information into context for patients.
  • We have put together a presentation describing the wide range of resources we have produced to support clinical practice.

Trust, specialist and consultant pharmacists

  • Specialists and consultant pharmacists from secondary care (e.g. mental health or care of the elderly pharmacists) can support with complex patient cases. Contact your local acute trust or check the directory of approved consultant pharmacist posts in your area
  • The pharmacy team at your local Trust will help you with queries about patients who have recently been discharged from that Trust and/or will put you in contact with the clinician who was leading on that patient’s care.

CCG pharmacy team

  • The CCG pharmacy team is well placed to support you in answering questions about medicines that relate to local guidelines and formulary choices. All CCGs have an online formulary. Contact your local CCG for that information.

PCN pharmacists and embedded practice pharmacists

  • Your local PCN pharmacy team is a good resource for questions about local issues such as choice of medicines. They have experience in dealing with primary care queries and will cover the GP practice that your patient is registered with so can give more detail on the clinical issues for that particular patient
  • Practice employed pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are also a good source of information about the patient and will have information on e.g. the allergy status of the patient and the full past and current drug history of the patient.

Palliative care teams

  • Palliative care teams within your local area will give guidance on appropriate choice of medication, details of options should be available via your CCG formulary website or other local website for clinicians.
  • CCGs will have details of the local service to ensure provision of end of life care medicines in a timely manner – make sure you know how to access this information. This might be via extended hours pharmacies or by another route.

Future NHS Collaboration Platform

  • The MOCH professional network hosts a discussion forum where pharmacy teams can post questions and read other’s discussions relating to care home issues. Login required but free to sign up.


If we’ve missed any advice or guidance which you think would be helpful to care home pharmacy teams, please get in touch.