Community pharmacy pediatric palliative care pilot launched in Scotland

A 12-month pilot project of a community pharmacy-led palliative care service specifically for children has been launched in Scotland.

The service, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, was launched in January 2020 by Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS), a charity that provides support to families with children with life-shortening conditions, and NHS Forth Valley, and will aim to improve the treatment of babies, children and young adults with life-shortening conditions. It is an extension of the existing community pharmacy palliative care network, which currently only provides services to adults.

The 14 community pharmacies in the network will hold a basic stock of pediatric palliative care medicines to improve rapid patient access, as well as provide advice on pediatric palliative care medicines to patients and healthcare professionals.

“In 2017, there were 16,000 children in Scotland with a life-shortening disease, and if current trends continue, that number will continue to rise,” said Kate McCusker, Chief Pharmacist at CHAS.

“We have to think creatively and explore new ways of working if we want to reach those 16,000 as well,” she added.

McCusker explained that medications used in pediatric palliative care may sometimes be needed urgently and at the end of life, but are not always readily available from community pharmacies. The service aims to ensure these drugs are available when needed to better support this group of patients, she said.

“We wanted to work with community pharmacists and leverage their clinical expertise, their unique position in local communities and their reach across Scotland to expand the support networks available to children with life-shortening conditions. and their families,” she added.

Lizzie Chambers, director of programs at Together for Short Lives, a UK charity for children with life-limiting conditions, said she was “delighted” to see the pilot established.

“It has huge potential to transform the way Scotland’s sickest children are cared for at home and we look forward to learnings from the pilot so the model can be shared in other parts of the UK. United.

“Children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions may experience severe pain and other symptoms and their medication needs may change rapidly as they deteriorate or are at the end of life at home.” she explained.

Community pharmacists in the pilot network received training from a multidisciplinary CHAS team including physicians, independent prescribers and advanced nurse practitioners. Topics covered included an introduction to pediatric palliative care; medicines used in pediatric palliative care; common symptoms in pediatric palliative care (specific sessions on pain, dyspnea and constipation); enteral feeding tube medication administration and communication skills.

The pilot is currently being established in the Forth Valley, but there are plans to create a Scotland-wide network of CHAS community pharmacies.

  • This article was edited on February 3, 2020 to correct a quote from Kate McCusker.

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