A plan for pharmacy-led medicines management for care home residents, developed to respond to the continued significant challenge posed by Covid-19 in care homes, has been formalised by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I).

The operational model, published by the NHS Specialist Pharmacy Service (SPS) last week, outlines four ways in which the wider pharmacy team will offer support, led by CCGs. This includes working with multidisciplinary teams to support the clinical review of patients; facilitating medication supply; information and support to ensure the safe and effective use of medicines; and delivering structured medication reviews.

Community pharmacies will continue to lead on the supply of prescribed medicines to care homes, which includes facilitating end of life medication. Teams can also work with care homes pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in all aspects of medicines supply.

Independent prescribers will support the 'clinical review' of patients by 'working with care home clinical leads and MDTs to agree the prioritisation of residents.'

Support for care homes will require ‘collaborative, clinical and professional leadership from across pharmacy sectors,’ and so ‘hospital, community and mental health chief pharmacists, are being asked to work with each other and care home leads at CCGs and primary care networks to offer immediate pharmacy and medicines support to care home staff and residents.’

Local pharmacy leaders have been asked to draw up a ‘local workforce strategy and action plan’ to help ‘support the mobilisation and deployment of clinical pharmacy teams to support care homes.’

It added: ‘Local teams will find it helpful to map current service provision and workforce to their priorities.’

If local teams are too short-staffed to support all their care homes, the Pharmacy and Medicines Care Home Task Force, or equivalent, should have ‘urgent discussions’ with ‘local organisations’ so as to ‘identify additional staff.’

‘There may also be opportunities for staff returning to the register or shielded staff to support locally,’ it added.

The statement also says that pharmacists or pharmacy teams who work in care homes should undertake a self-assessment to find out the gaps in their knowledge. Training resources will be provided online for pharmacy staff to ‘update gaps in learning.'

As of today (26 May), the total number of Covid-19 deaths in care homes in England and Wales stands at 11,650 - a number which continues to rise.