Influences on medicine supply to care homes
The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the challenges facing the care home sector, particularly in terms of the supply of medicines. With care homes facing a lack of qualified care workforce, increasing demand for their services with a growing number of residents with complex medical needs, ensuring a reliable and efficient supply of medicines is more important than ever.
This article will explore the key influences on supply of medicines to care homes, including changes in the community pharmacy network, pharmacy finances, and medicine supply chain issues.
Changes in the Community Pharmacy Network:
The community pharmacy network has undergone significant changes in recent years, which have had an impact on the provision of medicines to care homes. One of the most significant changes has been the consolidation of the sector, with many smaller independent pharmacies being acquired by larger chains. While this has led to some efficiencies in the supply chain, it has also led to a reduction in the number of community pharmacies, particularly in rural areas, where access to medicines can be an issue.
Another significant change has been the introduction of the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) in 2019. The CPCF is designed to improve the quality and consistency of services provided by community pharmacies, but it has also led to some uncertainty for care homes, particularly around the provision of emergency supplies of medicines.
Pharmacy finances have also been a huge influence on medicines supply to care homes. In recent years, community pharmacies have faced a number of financial challenges, including reductions in funding and changes to reimbursement rates. These challenges have led to some pharmacies struggling to remain viable, particularly in areas with high levels of deprivation.
This has led to some pharmacies reducing their services, including the provision of delivery services to care homes. For care homes, this can lead to difficulties in accessing the medicines their patients require, particularly if they are in areas with limited access to other healthcare services.
Medicine Supply Chain Issues:
Finally, medicine supply chain issues have also played a part. The pandemic has highlighted the fragility of global supply chains, with many countries experiencing shortages of essential medicines, medical supplies and care equipment.
In the UK, Brexit has also had an impact on medicine supply, particularly around the movement of medicines between the UK and EU. While steps have been taken to mitigate these issues, such as stockpiling and increased regulatory oversight, care homes remain vulnerable to disruptions in the supply chain.
Ensuring a reliable and efficient supply of medicines to care homes is essential for providing high-quality care to vulnerable residents. While changes in the community pharmacy network, pharmacy finances, and medicine supply chain issues have all had an impact on medicine supply, it is important to recognise that there are also opportunities for improvement.
By working collaboratively across the healthcare system, including with community pharmacies, care homes, and other healthcare providers, and using technology software solutions such as a collaborative eMAR (electronic medication administration records) which not only records medicine use, and highlights trends or issues but also enables pharmacies to see in real-time what medicine the care home needs, it is possible to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of medicine supply to care homes and ensure that residents receive the care they require.