Commissioning care homes: common safeguarding challenges

Common safeguarding issues – Maladministration of medication

There are isolated cases of medication being mismanaged intentionally, such as the misappropriation and misuse of drugs by staff. There are more widespread issues regarding the misuse of sedatives to control challenging behaviour. There is no doubt that such issues are extremely serious and should be referred through safeguarding procedures.

The issue of poor management of medication, however, is far more common. Recent research for the Department of Health shows that 7 out of 10 residents are exposed to at least one medication error per day. Mistakes are made by people across the process from the GP to the pharmacist and care home staff. In the care home, incidents occur where the resident is accidentally given the wrong medication, given too much or too little of their own medication or given it at the wrong time. Most errors do not result in significant harm but mistakes can lead to serious and, in some cases, fatal consequences.

Good medical care also includes the proper use of non-oral medication, equipment and appliances including catheter care, use of oxygen etc. Only trained staff should be providing such care.

Prevention checklist