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New Quality Standards will Improve the Quality of Care for Older People

With over 350,000 people currently living in care homes in England and Wales, it seems that a significant number of errors are being made in administering medication. In fact, according to the results of a survey in 2011, an incredible 90% of residents were subject to a potential error over the course of just three months.

Furthermore, it has been shown that 30% of people aged over 75 experience one or more falls each year, with the figure rising to 50% in people aged over 80. That’s around two and a half million falls each year, many of which cause injuries.

Now the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has introduced new quality standards in an attempt to minimise these very serious problems and improve the quality of care for older people. In particular, the new quality standards have been designed to ensure that residents in care homes receive appropriate and correct treatment.

Improving Administration of Medication

Correct administration of medication for elderly people and care home residents is considered by NICE to be a key issue, and the new guidelines are designed to ensure that patients receive appropriate treatment at all times. Key points of the new standards are designed to create a coherent strategy for patient medication, including the following points:

– Requiring that all health and social-care workers should be aware of each resident’s medical needs so that patients receive appropriate treatments at the appropriate time.

– Any patient entering, transferring from or being discharged from a care home should be equipped with a discharge summary of current medication details.

– The use and monitoring of prescribed medicines for care home residents should be conducted according to strict instructions.

– Medication reviews should be undertaken for all care home residents by multidisciplinary teams.

– Residents should be allowed to self-administer medicines where it is considered safe for them to do so.

Limiting Injuries from Falls

In an attempt to manage and limit falls and accidents for care home residents and for those living independently, new guidelines for risk assessments have been introduced.

All elderly people who are living independently in the community, and who are known to have a history of falling, should be subject to a referral for specialist training in balance and strength. This provides them with the necessary skills to carry on living independently with renewed confidence.

Risk assessments should be carried out as a matter of course whenever an elderly person attends a hospital as a result of a fall.

Older people admitted to hospital as in-patients should be given the opportunity to undergo a home assessment to identify and minimise hazards. They should also receive appropriate assistance to ensure that there is no recurrence when they are discharged from hospital.

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