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New Technology Improves The Safety of Care Home Residents

Claire Buckle, Manager at Coach House Care Home 

Claire Buckle, Manager at Coach House Care Home for the Elderly, discusses how the introduction of new technology has improved patient safety within their care home

Care home residents take on average 7.2 medicines per day and with each additional medicine comes an increased risk of medication errors when prescribing, monitoring and administering to residents. Reports show that 70% of care home residents have experienced at least one error in their medication regime. Now, Coach House Care Home for the Elderly has introduced new technology to tackle this serious issue and improve the safety of their residents.

In February 2017 Coach House had a CQC inspection which revealed gaps within our medication administration records and inspectors witnessed one resident receiving another person’s pain relief which was not their prescribed dosage. The report also revealed that:

  • Medication audits had not identified the concerns found during the inspection.
  • Medicines were not safely stored and administered.
  • Notes of when medicines were not administered were not routinely recorded on the back of the MAR.
  • PRN (as required) medicines were not given routinely and there was no guidance to help staff understand in which circumstance they should be offered.
  • Care and treatment was not provided in a safe way for people using the service because there was no safe management of medicines.

We decided to implement Omnicell eMAR as a simple solution to ensure that our residents were taking the right medication, the right dose and at the right time and address all the issues found within the CQC report. The eMAR system gathers information, provides prompts and accurate instructions for staff and gives managers real-time medication administration data at the touch of a button.

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 or returned to the pharmacy. The system uses on-screen photograph identification and provides an important medical history for each resident. This includes a simple alert and verification system to minimise the risk of medication administration errors in the home. Each of our staff members have their own log-in details which enables robust auditing.

We are really pleased with the system and the risk of human error during medication administration has been taken away since implemention. There is no longer the risk of overdosing patients as the system prompts you and tells you exactly when the resident had that last dose of medication. It times the rounds to ensure people get their medicines at the correct time intervals and confirmed that all the medicines have been dispensed at the end of the round. The system will also inform you of any safety issues involved with the medicine about to be offered, there has been no incidents of missed medication or errors since implementation.

The audit trail is now much clearer as we no longer rely on a paper-based system, in the event of discrepancies we can now see straight away what has happened and why it occurred. Stock counts are also much more accurate and quicker to do.

Staff are much more confident when administering medication to our residents and ensure they have correctly taken it before signing it off in the medication register. As soon as the system was installed our staff received thorough training and the team at Omnicell were incredibly helpful. One member of staff said “It’s [eMAR has] been brilliant, we all support each other but we also have someone we can speak to on the end of the phone. Any problems, they have been so helpful.”

After installing the system we had another CQC inspection in October 2017 and were delighted to see the difference eMAR had made on our feedback from the commissioning review. Medicines were now administered and stored safely meeting legal requirement.

We are amazed by how well the system works and don’t know why we didn’t install it sooner. Technology is imperative to bring the care service into the 21st century and protect residents, and staff, from medication errors.

 

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