Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS) and NHS Forth Valley are piloting an initiative involving pharmacists in a lead role to support babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions, and their families.
From January to December this year, the network of 14 community pharmacies in Forth Valley will provide timely access to specialist medicines and paediatric palliative care advice in their local community for children diagnosed with life-shortening conditions.
The pilot will be regularly evaluated, helping to shape further development of community pharmacy-led services that are responsive to the needs of these children and their families.
Rose-Marie Parr, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at the Scottish Government, said: “This is a great example of person-centred care which we know from evidence can have a positive impact on health outcomes. Through this pilot, pharmacists will be trained in the delivery of pharmaceutical paediatric palliative care and can pro-actively support parents to safely manage their children’s changing medication requirements.
“This is tailored to the individual needs of the parent and child and addresses any emerging health literacy issues head-on”.
All 14 community pharmacies participating in the pilot are part of the existing adult palliative care network, and the new service aims to capitalise on the clinical expertise of community pharmacists.
Anne Wilson, Specialist Palliative Care Pharmacist at NHS Forth Valley, said: “Children should have timely access to palliative care medicine and the 14 community pharmacists who are participating in the network are spread geographically across Forth Valley. They will hold key medication for palliative paediatric patients and help with any questions parents might have. The impact a community pharmacist can have on these patients in Forth Valley is extremely significant”.
A 2018 report has identified 857 children with a life-shortening condition requiring palliative care in Forth Valley alone. Only 36 per cent of those children are having a stay within hospital or CHAS services.
As the only Scotland-based charity providing hospice services for babies, CHAS aims to spread this across the country and explore how community and primary care-based pharmacists can provide a direct patient-facing medicines review and symptom control service for children with life-shortening conditions.