Headlines: June 27th, 2005

A pioneering initiative has been launched to remind older people when to take vital medication. Health care professionals, social care or housing staff identify people who may benefit and a local pharmacist assesses their suitability for the scheme. The pharmacist discusses which medicines they are currently taking, any concerns they may have with taking medicine and then recommends whether or not the electronic reminder service should be installed.People enrolled on the scheme are provided with a Tunstall Lifeline 4000+, which automatically gives an audible and visual alert when it is time to take their medication. If the person does not press a key on the Lifeline unit to acknowledge the reminder within a set time, the unit will alert a monitoring centre, so that any necessary follow-up action can be taken.

Over a third of older people take more than four medicines, several times daily and at different times of the day. Research has shown that for patients with long term conditions, as many as half of prescribed medicines are not taken as prescribed.

Failure to take drugs on time in the dosages prescribed is as dangerous and costly as many illnesses. The UK’s Primary Care Trusts spend an estimated 17% of their total budget on medication compliance and up to 10% of hospital admissions are due to people not taking their prescribed drugs.

The medicine reminder initiative is a result of collaboration in Staffordshire between two housing services, local pharmacists, Social Services, two Primary Care Trusts and Tunstall, a provider of personal and home reassurance telecare solutions.