Safer Administration of Medicines in Care Homes

Closed 31 Jan 2020

Opened 18 Nov 2019

Results expected 31 Jan 2020

Feedback expected 28 Feb 2020


How can we improve the safety of giving medicines to people living in care homes?

Medicines are a vital part of keeping people well and improving our quality of life.  Residents of care homes often have complex needs, which in turn means many residents are prescribed multiple medications. Often residents rely heavily on their carers or nurses to access the medicines they need. 

The vast majority of medicines are given as intended, but we know from academic research that on occasion, some are not. Mostly these incidents result in no harm, but there is potential that medicines given incorrectly can have serious consequences; unnecessary suffering, hospitalisation or even death. We also know that older people are more susceptible to the side-effects of medicines.

What are we aiming to do?

Patient Safety Collaboratives are part of the Academic Health Science Network and have been funded to work with care homes on the safety of giving medicines. This work is part of the National Medicines Safety Improvement Programme which has been started in response to the National Patient Safety Strategy which was launched in September 2019.

We are keen to work with care homes to:

  1. Better understand the things that affect the safety of giving medicines.
  2. Look for ways to continuously improve safety and the experience of care and
  3. Measure how effectively we can protect people from harm.

How will the work we will do help?

This work will help care homes be proactive in keeping people safe and well. This is of benefit to everyone: the residents, the care staff, the home and also the wider health and social care system.

  • Some people yo-yo in and out of hospital due to ill-health caused by their medicines.
  • It is a priority for health and care organisations to support people to remain at home where they thrive in familiar surroundings and this enhances their quality of life.
  • The Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates and inspects care homes to ensure they are safe, well-led, effective, caring and responsive to people’s needs. The CQC expects all organisations supporting people to protect them from harm and to take action to improve practices where necessary.

What do we need to help us with this work?

We hope to gather as much information as we can from the people who work in and with care homes and from the residents and the families of those who experience the care provided.

To do this we are inviting care homes to take part in a short e-survey. We are looking for care homes who are willing to volunteer to work with us more closely to build a very detailed understanding of the safety of giving medicines. In the future we will be asking for  volunteers to participate in the testing of ideas that may make the giving of medicines even safer.

All information collected in this survey will be used for the stated purposes only, and will not be used for performance or contract management or passed on to commissioners, regulators of care homes or prosecuting authorities with the exception of adherence to statutory duties of safeguarding.


Individual care home returns will be shared with the Academic Health Science Network who operate the Patient Safety Collaborative in your area. Representatives of the Patient Safety collaborative may contact you directly for more information.

 All publicly published information resulting from this survey will be in aggregate format and will not identify any individual care home without the express permission of the care home’s registered manager or owner.

What Happens Next

The results of this survey will be shared on Patient Safety Measurement Unit (PSMU) website: