Managing medication at the end of life: supporting family carers
Ben Bowers, Eleanor Wilson
Effective medicines management is key in enabling timely end-of-life symptom control in the community (Payne et al, 2015; Latif et al, 2021). Managing medications in home is a complex, multi-faceted activity, one that is intertwined with the practical and emotional stresses experienced by patients and their families. Family (and friend) carers usually shoulder these responsibilities as patients become increasingly ill and dependent on their support. They typically oversee and manage the patient’s end-of-life medications and are also expected to undertake complex care and technical medication tasks with little or no training (Oliver et al, 2013; Wilson et al, 2018; Bowers et al, 2022). Community nurses can act as a ‘linchpin’ in supporting families with medication management at the end of life, informing, supporting and advocating on the family’s behalf (Huisman et al, 2020). However, persistently over-stretched resources mean that community nursing input for supporting medication management is often restricted to functional and reactive interventions (Bowers, 2021; Pollock et al, 2021). In the context of constrained health and social care support, community nurses need to consider how personalised, timely professional advice and support with medication management can be best achieved.