Interim professional standards to ensure the safe and effective delivery of high-quality care and optimal outcomes for individuals in the ‘hospital at home’ setting have been published by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).
Focusing on virtual wards, pharmacy services and medicines use, the eight standards support the audit and benchmark of good practices throughout the UK and include key themes of person-centred care, communication and medicines safety and supply.
With the rapid growth of virtual wards, the practical framework can be used by multidisciplinary teams across all sectors to improve established hospital-at-home pharmacy services, support NHS recovery and enable reforms to community, urgent and emergency care, the RPS said.
Professor Claire Anderson, president of the RPS, commented: ‘These standards represent a significant step towards ensuring that patients receive the best care in the comfort of their homes where this is possible. By following these guidelines, we can elevate the quality of care and create positive health outcomes for patients.’
The eight standards cover putting people first, episode of care, integrated transfer of care, medicine and pharmacy services governance, safe and efficient supply of medicines, leadership, systems of work and workforce.
These are further subdivided into descriptors to support the attainment of each the standard, focusing on areas of variability or challenge encountered by hospital-at-home pharmacy services.
The descriptors are not comprehensive and the RPS said they should be used alongside other national hospital-at-home guidance, relevant standards, local resources and standard operating procedures.
RPS head of professional standards Wing Tang said: ‘This framework is designed to be useful to any healthcare professional working to provide Hospital at Home pharmacy services. It can help to assure and enhance the quality of established Hospital at Home pharmacy services and also to help set up new services.
‘The standards define what constitutes good in working practices and can be used to assess and measure pharmacy services. Providers can also use them to evaluate themselves and identify areas for improvement.’
Virtual wards provide acute clinical care, monitoring and treatment via face-to-face, remote or hybrid consultations for people at home for a short duration and can help to prevent avoidable admission or facilitate early discharge.