The Department of Health Homecare Strategy Board and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society have published new professional standards for homecare services, to ensure patient safety and the effective management of medicines delivered via the homecare route.

The 10 Professional Standards for Homecare Services aim to provide a best-practice framework for the implementation and delivery of such services, and will enable the continual improvement of homecare services, says the RPS.

The standards are grouped into three domains. Domain I covers the patient experience and includes three standards, covering: 

patient engagement - informed choice, information about homecare services, adherence to medicines pathway and patient needs and responsibilities; 

episode of care - on referral to homecare services, ongoing care of homecare patients and monitoring patients’ outcomes; and 

integrated care - effective communication and continuity of professional duty of care, working with other professions and working within multiple regulatory frameworks.

Domain II covers implementation and delivery of safe and effective homecare services. It contains four standards: 

effective use of homecare medicines - homecare policy, homecare services procurement, sourcing and purchasing of homecare medicines, custom-made homecare medicines, imported unlicensed homecare medicines and equipment and ancillaries; 

homecare medicines expertise - expertise and competence of the homecare team, and expertise for patient care;

safe use of homecare medicines - safe systems, safety culture and clinical governance; and 

supply and use of homecare medicines - patient services, clinical checking of homecare prescriptions, dispensing, labelling and patient information, distribution and storage and medicines administration and compliance services.

Domain III covers governance of homecare services and contains three standards: 

leadership - strategic, operating and clinical; 

governance and financial management - homecare systems governance, financial governance and quality risk management; and 

workforce  - workforce planning and development, and education and training.

The DH Homecare Strategy Board is chaired by Mark Hackett, who authored the 2011 Department-commissioned report Homecare Medicines  - Towards a Vision for the Future, which made recommendations for improving the financial and clinical governance arrangements for patients receiving medicines via the homecare route.

Commenting on the new standards, Mr Hackett said that their main aim is to ensure that all patients receive safe and effective homecare services. “I’d like to see them adopted by all providers and commissioners to make sure standards are raised and maintained in the future service provision,” added Mr Hackett, who is chief executive of University Hospital North Staffordshire NHS Trust.