This report is a qualitative study looking at the medicines related care of people with dysphagia (or swallowing difficulties) living in care homes.

The study was conducted because of concerns brought to our national helpline and evidence of the increasing incidence of dysphagia among older people in care homes. It was based on a survey of 30 care homes.

Our aims:

  • What evidence can be provided of the awareness of the impact of tampering with medication by care staff?
  • Does mixing medicine with food work?
  • Do prescription of liquid forms of medication offer a useful way to address this concern?

Our findings:

  • Despite the numbers of people affected by swallowing difficulties in care homes only 10% of the homes surveyed had a specific protocol to guide staff in administering medication to people with dysphagia and only 20% had arranged training in this important area
  • Crushing, melting or dispersing tablets alters the normal arrangements for the body’s absorption of medication with attendant risks associated with increasing the likelihood of side effects or reduced effectiveness
  • The prescription of liquid forms of medication offers a useful way to address this. Despite this, not all medication is available in this form
  • In over 70% of the homes medication was being mixed with food to make it easier to administer. This raised important concerns about ensuring that service users remain aware that medication is being administered in this way, together with the possibility of reduced or missed doses of medication, if the affected service user does not consume the full portion of food.

Download the survey of medicines related care of residents with dysphagia in care homes

For more information please contact Heather Eardley, Head of Projects and Partnerships on [email protected]  or 07872 633 189.