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New guidance to improve children’s palliative care

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The University of Bradford has worked with Together for Short Lives, a national organisation that represents children hospices to produce medicines management guidance for healthcare professionals working in children hospices.

The Safe use of medicines toolkit is available to download online for healthcare professionals working in children hospices. It is essential and gold standard guidance for clinicians and everyone managing medicines for children and young people with life-limiting conditions throughout their life and at the end of their life.

Hadar Zaman, Head of School, Pharmacy & Medical Sciences at the University of Bradford led the project and was the Chief Editor of the toolkit. He worked with Professor Gerry Armitage, Professor in Health Services Research Dr Justine Tomlinson, Assistant Professor in Pharmacy Practice and Dr Michael Tatterton, Associate Professor in Children Nursing also from Bradford, on the updated toolkit.

Hadar explains “Medicines continue to be the most common clinical intervention in healthcare and the safe use of medicines is paramount in delivering safe and effective care. Medication-related harm can and does have fatal consequences particularly in the vulnerable group such as children and young people .”

“Often children and young people with life-limiting conditions require multiple medications and care from different professionals across different settings. For those involved, the co-ordination of such complex care is a continuing challenge.

“This toolkit responds to the latest changes in medicines management while adhering to principles of good governance in the high-risk element of children’s palliative care.”

This third edition offers important new sections and guidance, including, learning from error and controlled drugs. One of the key strengths of this toolkit that it has been developed alongside clinicians working in hospices to ensure that it is fully relevant and translational to the practice setting. Each chapter includes questions to stimulate reflection, knowledge bites, goals for practice, and clinical case study examples that capture front line experience in practice.

This toolkit is written by seven expert leaders, including academics from University of Bradford, in their fields and has been funded by the James Tudor Foundation. It has been designed to:

  • provide the underlying knowledge and skills for the assessment and management of medicines-related risk
  • present the key threats to child safety in high-risk processes such as providing complex medicines across services
  • develop guidance for medicines reconciliation and transcribing to improve medicines management at care transitions
  • encourage the sharing of notable local practice across children’s palliative care services
  • enable the production of medicines management policies in each local service that share a common evidence base, common principles and shared standards.

Lizzie Chambers, Director of Programmes for Together for Short Lives said: “I hope this updated toolkit and guidance will provide everything necessary to safely use medicines in children’s hospice and palliative care settings.  The toolkit is jam packed with practical tips, new research, updated legislation and case examples and the new interactive format means that readers can link to documents at the click of a mouse.   We hope that the resource will help to keep the safety of children and young people at the heart of care.”

The toolkit was first created in 2014 and has been updated to reflect the most up-to-date guidance. So far the toolkit has already been downloaded over 300 times going to show its popularity and importance in this sector.

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