Care Homes and COVID-19: Supply of medicines

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

Access to medicines and responding to queries relating to the supply of medicines is a key role of the care home pharmacy team.

The following resources will support pharmacy teams respond to issues relating to the supply of medicines:

Practical advice

Digital Primary Care (accessed via the FutureNHS Collaboration Platform) Ordering Medication by Proxy for Care Home Staff

Updated regularly

Our summary

  • The FutureNHS Collaboration Platform is a sharing platform for NHS teams, in order to access it you need to register for an account here
  • The GPIT contact commitments folder within the Digital Primary Care Workspace contains a lot of useful information about proxy ordering for both care home staff and GP practice staff, ranging from care home resident consent forms, to GDPR data sharing templates and advice on how to use various GP prescribing systems to enable proxy ordering for care home residents
  • For a video overview of the service click here
  • This portal will continue to be updated as proxy ordering develops

SPS Private: Medicine supply and shortages updates from the Department of Health and Social Care

Last published 8th February 2021

Our summary

  • There is a team within the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), who are responsible for managing medicine supply issues including shortages and discontinuations
  • DHSC also produces a monthly report, which is more tailored to the primary care market and provides information on supply issues affecting primary care medicines.

Dept of Health and Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and reuse of medicines in a care home or hospice

Last updated 2nd September 2020

Our summary

  • This is a standard operating procedure on how to run a safe and effective medicines reuse scheme in a care home or hospice during the coronavirus outbreak. It includes a template log for care homes and hospices to use.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) Controlled drugs as stock in care homes

last updated 28th April 2020

Our summary

  • CQC summarises the advice about anticipatory medicines stocked in care homes and the use of local hubs to ensure safe, legal and rapid access to anticipatory care medicines

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

Last updated 20th July 2020

Our summary

CQC provides a wealth of information about supply and administration of medicines.

Click on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) section in the above link to see COVID-19 specific advice e.g.

  • Inappropriate use of sedative medicines to enforce social distancing guidelines
  • Medicines support care plans – making adjustments during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
  • Medicines disposal during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
  • Handwritten medicines Administration Records (MARs)

Click on the Care Homes section at the above link for more general topics including –

  • Administering medicines when a person is away from their usual care setting
  • Covert administration of medicines
  • EOLC and medicines optimisation
  • Over the counter medicines and homely remedies
  • Multi-compartment compliance aids (MCAs) in care homes

Association of Palliative Medicine Priority medicines for palliative and end of life care during a pandemic

  • This guidance sets out a limited range of priority medicines for palliative and end of life care that need to be managed nationally with local collaboration across all sectors
  • It also covers the operational principles that support this formulary

Community pharmacy advice

There is a lot of advice and support available to colleagues working in community pharmacies. When working with care homes it can be useful to understand what community pharmacy can do to support those patients and how the community pharmacy contract works. To better understand this, there are three key resources –

Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Practice guidance for pharmacists and their teams

Our summary

As the professional body for pharmacists, the RPS has produced a lot of supportive guidance as well as Q&As covering various ethical and professional dilemmas. This resource is currently free to access, although you will need to register on the site for some of the resources. Topics covered include

  • COVID-19 queries – prescribing, dispensing and advising on COVID queries
  • Pharmacy services during the pandemic – contractual, commissioned, RD, waste, repeat prescriptions, delivery
  • Managing your medicines supplies during the pandemic – shortages and profiteering

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC): Latest updates on COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Our summary

As the regulatory body for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacies, the GPhC has produced statements, information and Q&As on various aspects of the coronavirus pandemic and how it impacts on pharmacy services and personnel.

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC): PSNC COVID-19 hub

Last updated 15th Feb 2021

Our summary

PSNC represents NHS Pharmacy contractors and works closely with the LPCs. Their website is a good resource for questions about the community pharmacy contract. There is a specific COVID-19 hub which contains links to information, guidance and resources for community pharmacy contractors and their teams. Topics include –

  • Supply of medicines during the pandemic which includes urgent medicines supply, medicines re-use schemes
  • Pandemic delivery service including information on the new contractual responsibilities to support patients who are shielding in accessing their medicines

Digital solutions

NHS Digital Electronic Prescription Service (EPS)

Our summary

EPS sends electronic prescriptions from GP practices to community pharmacies. CCGs will have guidance on the roll-out of the digital solutions around prescriptions including EPS prescription tracker, EPS phase 4 and using EPC in remote consultations.

Our summary

  • During COVID-19, eRD will help to  streamline the process of ordering, prescribing and dispensing medicines and reduce workload for prescribers and community pharmacy

NHSX Internet connection deals for care homes:

Our summary

  • A summary of internet deals available from a variety of suppliers who will prioritise installation for care homes at this critical time.

Administration update (18/2/2021): dates of last update amended

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