Pharmacists are an integral part of a patient’s care team in long-term care homes. While most know that a pharmacist’s role is to handle, dispense and prepare medications, many aren’t aware of the special role they play in long-term care homes. Most long-term care homes have a pharmacy on site, with very good reason. Here are some of the reasons it’s so important to have a pharmacist in a long-term care home.
Pharmacists become on-site caregivers
One of the benefits of a long-term care home is consistent access to care and medical advice or care for residents. However, Drs are not there 24/7. Pharmacists have the knowledge and expertise to offer personalized medical advice and assessments and are often easier to get time with than a physician may be. Pharmacists in a long-term care home will know patients just as well as their physicians and can offer advice as needed. This is just another layer of the care long-term care residents receive.
Pharmacists in long-term care are specialists in this patient population. Most have spent years working with older patients, and many have also worked in long-term care specifically. This means that they are uniquely in tune with the needs of long-term care residents, also understand the way the home itself works, and know the staff.
Ensuring patients have a consistent protocol
Most patients who are in a long-term care facility have a medication protocol that they must follow. Adherence to this protocol and ensuring that the medications these patients need are available when they need them is a major part of maintaining consistency in protocols.
Unique and tailored approaches
A Pharmacist’s role will vary greatly based on the population they are serving. As they get to know their community, they can tailor care to those in it, giving them the best possible experience. In a long-term care setting, a pharmacist will have the opportunity to get to know patients. They’ll understand details such as whether that patient can receive generic versions of their medication and prescribe accordingly. This knowledge is invaluable for an already vulnerable population and can help keep these individuals at home instead of requiring a trip to the ER.
Pharmacists will also come to know and understand the cycle of illness in their long-term care home and better prepare. This could look like realizing that flu season is coming and ensuring everyone is vaccinated, and that there are appropriate medications for those who do get sick.
Finally, pharmacists can be a great conduit for families to gain a better understanding of their loved one’s medical protocol. Pharmacists can explain the drugs patients are taking, any counterindications, and may be able to provide additional relevant information. Pharmacists in long-term care homes will know their patients well and be able to provide valuable insight.