The principles of a long-term care pharmacy are re-examining the apothecary’s original position within communities. Prior to the privatization of healthcare, the majority of individuals significantly relied on pharmacists as primary care physicians. By visiting the local pharmacy, people could receive basic diagnosis and treatment for a number of common ailments.
In current times, urgent care centers, emergency rooms, and specialists have assumed this function, with the pharmacy serving as an additional care provider for prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. As the elderly population grows and the prevalence of chronic progressive diseases becomes a worry for the entire healthcare system, the traditional role of pharmacy and pharmacist is regaining prominence.
Regarding monitoring patient conditions and controlling drug protocols, long term care pharmacists assume many of the responsibilities of a general practitioner. A long term care pharmacy’s two primary responsibilities are the actual distribution of pharmaceuticals for an extended care program and serving as a resource for knowledge and education as a consulting service.
Where is a Long-Term Care Pharmacy Located?
Theoretically, any pharmacy can become a long-term care pharmacy, depending on the facility’s management business plan. While current trends suggest that more general dispensaries will convert to long-term care pharmacies, the bulk of facilities that have already made this transition are:
- Nursing facilities
- Long-term care institutions
- Mental institutions
- Home healthcare organizations
- Hospice care
- Correctional facilities
- Rehabilitation centers
- Pain management facilities
- Adult day care
- Ambulatory and emergency care centers
- Industrial and manufacturing facilities
This provides numerous opportunities for this type of practice. The majority of these facilities for long term care pharmacies are already equipped to serve a resident population, allowing patients to utilize pharmacist expertise even when the nursing staff is engaged in other forms of patient care.
Community pharmacies, both privately owned and chain run, are also venues where long term care is being eased into practice. This can further modify the overall healthcare focus to become more patient centered. As a result, many persons on a management regimen will receive improved treatment and monitoring of disease progression and potential drug interactions.
Long-Term Care Pharmacy Responsibilities
As the prescriptions that are supplied and the additional services provided by the institution are the two most distinguishing characteristics of a long-term care pharmacy, these may include a variety of support responsibilities. This goes beyond standard pharmacy operations of filling incoming prescriptions for pharmaceuticals and functioning as a basic liaison between the patient and the doctor.
As a result, many long term care pharmacies may feature lab equipment and larger inventories than regular pharmacy stores, as well as the ability to schedule general patient checkups and consultations. The majority of long-term care pharmacies will blend features of the two principal focuses, however, others will place a greater emphasis on dispensing.
A long-term care pharmacy will offer both tangible products and patient care services. Typically, these will include:
- Review of medication regimens
- Monitoring of physical status and response to medications throughout time
- Evaluation of clinical visits and medical records
- Nutritional assistance services
- Availability of medical equipment
- Fitting for surgical instruments
- IV treatment services
- Drug development
- Patients’ counseling
While these actions will generally be experienced by the patient as a care oriented approach, there are other things that a long term care pharmacist conducts that are not immediately obvious.
They will continue to pertain to the established relationship with the patient and the extended care that may be provided. Included among these services are:
- Developing quality assurance programs for the medications and treatment provided
- Assessing and distributing pharmacological information, particularly if it potentially affects existing treatment protocols or the patient’s secondary ailments.
- Patient education initiatives
- Pharmaceutical packaging for patient compliance
- Diagnostic services that can be carried out at home
- Laboratory testing for blood panels and physiological monitoring
- Pharmaceutical delivery systems
- Patient reports and forms
Advantages of a Pharmacy for Long-Term Care
While a long term care pharmacy can be beneficial for any patient, it plays a significant role in the healthcare of those who require a constant prescription regimen. These can include the elderly, as well as those with chronic blood problems, autoimmune disorders, and malignancies. Yet, the overall advantages remain comparable.
Long term care pharmacies create a clinical relationship with the patient, allowing them to function as more than just a liaison between patients and their physicians. The pharmacist assumes many of the responsibilities of a primary care physician by monitoring the patient’s health over time. This necessitates an in-depth understanding of the patient’s medical history and current wellness problems.
This is particularly crucial for therapies that require frequent patient testing to verify that metabolic activities are balanced. Individuals with a chronic illness or who anticipate needing treatment for a longer period of time can utilize the long term care pharmacy as both a service provider and a dispensary.
The Value of Consultation
Individualized care is one of the other important responsibilities of a long term care pharmacist. Focusing on consulting with patients about their illnesses, it also provides drug producers and clinicians with important therapeutic feedback. This reflects the fact that not all individuals will react the same way to specific treatments and that the development of any chronic illness might vary substantially. In addition to providing patients with peace of mind regarding their care, consulting services can detect adverse responses before they cause irreversible harm.