A study has confirmed that there are benefits to pharmacist independent prescribers working with homeless people to address their health needs.
The ‘assertive outreach’ programme delivered by independent prescribing pharmacists out on the streets of a number of Scottish cities has been found to be ‘feasible and leads to increased access to medicines for acute and chronic health problems.’
These early results are positive but the authors do acknowledge that further work is needed to evaluate the impact of this new service on key clinical outcomes.
The service in question involved pharmacists providing ‘pop-up, drop-in (no appointment needed) health clinics to various homeless support venues in Glasgow City Centre.’ There were 52 interventions made as part of the service. Over half of the interventions resulted in the pharmacist prescibers prescribing an item. Pharmacists diagnosed a new clinical issue in 69% of patients in these interventions.
The most commonly prescribed items included wound dressings, antihypertensives, antidiabetics, analgesics, inhalers, antidepressants and nutritional supplements.
Frances Lowrie, one of the authors of the study commented:
“People who are homeless have multiple and complex needs and are destitute. Many of these needs can be addressed by pharmacist independent prescribers working within the multidisciplinary team.
“The challenge with this patient group is engagement, but if we go to where the patients are rather than waiting for them to present at health services then the process becomes easier.”