Julie Spencer, head of care at Avery Healthcare Group, discusses how the introduction of innovative technology has improved medication management within their care homes.
Effective medication management has been an ongoing problem for care homes for a number of years. Reports show that almost 70% of residents have experienced at least one error in their medication regime. Now, new technology is helping Avery staff tackle this issue by reducing the risks associated with using a paper medication administration record sheet (MAR) in managed care homes.
At Avery Healthcare, we needed a simple solution. We currently have 50 homes, our teams are dealing with many complex medication regimes and controlled drugs every day. We found that the staff’s time was regularly taken up with medication management, from receiving medication to administering it. These processes reduce the time dedicated to face to face resident care – the very heart of our vision and ethos.
We decided to run a pilot scheme across two of our homes where our residents have an extensive daily medication regime. After looking at a number of eMAR systems we decided to pilot Omnicell eMAR. The dashboard presents an oversight of medication rounds within the homes.
The system gathers information, provides prompts and accurate instructions for our staff and gives managers realtime medication administration data.
With this revolutionary system, each individual medication is identified through a barcode applied in the pharmacy. Medication can then be tracked at all stages from check-in at the care home and administration to the resident, to unused items that are disposed of.
The system uses on-screen photograph identification and provides medical history for each resident. It includes an alert and verification system to minimise the risk of medication administration errors. Each staff member has their own log-in details which enables robust auditing.
The checking in of medication would take five hours per floor, totalling 15 hours per month for three floors. Since we have introduced the system this has been reduced to two hours per floor which. This 60% reduction means our staff can spend more time providing face-to-face care.
A ‘carried forward’ feature allows the homes to use medication from previous cycles rather than throwing it away, helping to tackle another largescale
problem – medication wastage. A report shows how much stock needs to be ordered, avoiding the risk of surplus or shortfall.
The system provides a clear audit and robust trail of all medication management, making CQC inspections much easier. It mitigates compliance risks and provides accurate information in the event that medication is not administered and gives clear reasons as to why.
Following a successful pilot of the system within two of our homes, Avery is currently expanding the pilot to include a further six homes.
For care home staff and nurses either working in or considering a career in care, the good news is that the digitalisation of these services offers unparalleled opportunities to convert timeconsuming administration time back into real resident care.