Up to 42% of patients admitted to care homes are at risk of malnutrition. Oral nutritional supplements (ONS) can be prescribed to increase nutritional intake when diet alone is insufficient to meet daily nutritional requirements. Where ONS are inappropriately initiated or continued beyond treatment goals this can contribute to significant waste and unnecessary costs. This study reviewed whether pharmacy technicians working in care home settings can support the cost-effective use of ONS. A quality improvement project using Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) methodology was undertaken by pharmacy technicians working in care homes to review the prescribing and monitoring of ONS. A sample of 330 residents were reviewed across 5 care homes. 45 residents were prescribed ONS, 16 of whom were unknown to dietitians. In collaboration with the dietetic service an oral nutritional support flow chart was developed and tested. Thirteen of the 16 residents unknown to the dietetic team did not require ONS and could be considered for alternative dietary options. Through collaborative working with dietetic services, pharmacy technicians can support effective use and review of ONS for care home residents, reduce unnecessary prescribing, and ensure appropriate referral to dietitians where indicated.
Keywords: care homes; deprescribing; nutrition; pharmacy technicians; waste.