Patient safety and quality of care is a priority for the Department of Health and Wellness. Naturally, that priority extends to each one of Nova Scotia’s 93 nursing homes. Provincial data indicate that the current length of stay in provincial nursing homes is 2.9 years and that most residents are users of multiple medications. In fact, many residents take more than13 medications per day. This concept, known as Polypharmacy is of particular importance as the risk of adverse drug reactions increases with age and the number of prescribed medications.
The Department of Health and Wellness (DHW) is committed to supporting initiatives targeted to improving care of the frail elderly. The department is currently sponsoring a two-year project to support the integration of the Polypharmacy Toolkit resource into practice at Nova Scotia nursing homes. This project is co-led by Judith Fisher and Cheryl Smith.
The Polypharmacy Toolkit is available for review online at http://polypharmacy.ca/. The toolkit contains information about the project as well as tools, guidelines and resources to assist health care providers with medication management for this frail elderly population. Education sessions regarding the Toolkit are ongoing.