This leaflet is to explain and provide you with more information about our homecare medicines service.
What is homecare?
The service is open to patients who have been prescribed certain medicines, which can only be prescribed by the hospital. One of the most common group of drugs supplied via homecare are known as biologics medicines (more information about biologic medicines at the end of this leaflet).
Homecare is a way of delivering these medicines to you directly at home, which means you don’t have to come into hospital every month to collect your prescription from out-patient pharmacy at the hospital. The clinical team caring for you at the hospital will discuss the service with you and ask questions to check if it is suitable for you.
Your clinical team, who are caring for you, will send a homecare prescription to the pharmacy homecare team located within main pharmacy at the hospital. The pharmacy homecare team will examine the homecare prescription to make sure it is suitable and safe for you. The pharmacy homecare team will then send the homecare prescription off to the relevant homecare provider.
Homecare does not involve your GP; however it is still important for your GP to know what medicines you have been prescribed from the hospital as he or she will continue to provide the majority of your regular medicines.
The homecare medicines service does not affect other aspects of your care and any other medicines will be supplied in the usual way – either by your GP’s prescription supplied from your local pharmacy or the hospital out-patient pharmacy. The clinical team looking after you will inform your GP what medicines you are taking via the homecare service.
Who will provide my medicines?
The service is provided by private companies who are not part of the NHS or the hospital but are registered to provide medicines and medical treatment. The homecare provider is bound by the same confidentiality rules as the NHS regarding accessible patient information, The Data Protection Act 1998.
The clinical team looking after you at the hospital will ask for your consent before completing the registration form to share your information with the homecare company.
The homecare provider we use will depend on which medicine you have been prescribed; the clinical team will inform you which company you will be with. If the hospital changes the homecare company we use, the pharmacy homecare team or the clinical team looking after you will let you know.
The homecare company will provide a reliable, professional service and keep your details confidential. You may withdraw from the service at any time by contacting your clinical team; this will not affect your future care.
Registering for homecare
The homecare provider will contact you once they have received the registration form and have set up an account for you; this could take up to two weeks. When you have been registered with the homecare provider you will receive a welcome pack, which will explain who they are and what they do.
The pack will include contact details for their dedicated customer services team, who you can call if you have any questions or concerns about your medicines or deliveries. For some treatments the homecare provider may help train/support patients and carers how to administer the medicines. (The clinical team at the hospital will give you more information if this applies to you).
Why and what are the benefits of using homecare companies?
- It is more convenient for you, as mentioned before; you don’t have to come into hospital every month to collect your prescription from hospital.
- You will save on car parking or transport costs.
- Medication will be delivered directly to your home or to a convenient address of your choice.
- Training and support on how to safely administer your medication.
- If you are going on a holiday, your medication can be delivered to an alternative address in the UK. (You must give the homecare provider notice before travelling)
- The homecare service allows certain medication, which GP’s are unable to prescribe on a normal repeat prescription, to be supplied on behalf of the hospital.
- Ensures your medicines are supplied on a regular basis.
It is important that you attend all hospital appointments arranged for you.
Whilst you do not need to come to the hospital for prescriptions, you must still attend your routine clinic appointments as the hospital needs to monitor your health. The hospital will not be able to continue homecare for you without these check-ups.
What happens next?
Once the homecare provider has received your prescription from the hospital, a co-ordinator from the homecare company will contact you to arrange a convenient date and time for delivery.
Deliveries will normally be made between 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday (depending on the homecare provider, some may deliver at the weekend).
The homecare provider will contact you each time you have a new prescription, to arrange the delivery of your medicine. The homecare provider may offer you the option to choose your delivery slot online or by telephone (this information will be in your welcome pack). Deliveries are usually scheduled to arrive when you have around two weeks’ supply of medicines left.
Most homecare providers offer a text message service on the day of delivery so that you will know what time to expect your medication. The deliveries are made by drivers who will carry identification cards, drive unmarked vans and understand the need for discretion and confidentially. You will receive your medicines in plain packaging.
Your medication can be delivered to a variety of places as pre-arranged with the homecare provider and you in agreement.
Delivery options include:
- Home address
- Work address
- A nominated alternative location (for example, a neighbour or a relative)
- A local pharmacy
All deliveries will require a signature upon receipt; this can be yourself or your designated representative (who must be age 16 or older). You will be asked when you set up the homecare medicines service if you want to nominate a designated representative.
Deliveries will only be made to you or another person you have authorised to sign for you. If at any point you need to change your representative, please contact the homecare provider as soon as possible to prevent any problems with the delivery.
Once you join the homecare medicines service, the first delivery may take a number of weeks to process.
If necessary, your doctor will give you a prescription to be dispensed at the hospital out-patient pharmacy to ensure you have medicines during this period.
In order to make homecare delivery of medications work well, the following is expected of you:
- If you have arranged a delivery time with the homecare provider, please make sure you or designated representative are available to receive the delivery as failed deliveries put a strain on the system. If you need to change or discuss your delivery date or delivery address, please contact the homecare provider as far in advance as possible to ensure you get a suitable delivery slot.
- If you change any of your contact details, including your mobile or landline telephone numbers, please ensure your clinic and the homecare provider is aware of the changes. You can do this by calling their customer services number or emailing them.
- Although you may not need to come to the hospital for a prescription, you must attend your routine clinic appointments and any monitoring (for example, bloods – your clinical team will advise you when this is required and if the hospital or your GP will take the bloods).
- The clinical team will not be able to issue a prescription without these check-ups, so failure to come to appointments can result in a break or delay in receiving treatment.
- If you think you may be running out of your medication (less than two weeks supply) and have not been contacted by the homecare provider to arrange a delivery, please call their customer services number. This will give the homecare provider enough time to arrange your delivery before you run out. The homecare provider will contact the hospital if they need another prescription for you.
- If you are going away for a while and think you may miss a delivery, please contact the homecare provider (customer services) and your hospital clinical team. They may be able to arrange to deliver your medication earlier for you or to another address but they will need plenty of time to organise this for you (around two weeks’ notice).
Storing your medicines
It is very important that you store your medicines correctly
All medicines should be stored out of the sight and reach of young children.
For medicines which need to be stored in a fridge
You should make sure the fridge is in a good working order before the first delivery is made. You may prefer to buy a mini fridge so your medicines can be stored separately. If you do not have a working fridge please let your clinical team know, so the delivery of your medicines can be put on hold.
If a medicine has been left out of the fridge or your fridge has failed please read the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicines to see if it provides any information. If not, please contact the homecare provider for advice or your clinical team.
Although the delivery of homecare medicines is free of charge, you or the hospital may have to pay for resupply of the medicines that have been lost or stored incorrectly.
What if I am away or on holiday?
If you are going away or on holiday and a delivery is due whilst you are away, the medicines can be delivered to an alternative address in the UK. There are restrictions to this service and you will need to give two weeks’ notice so that arrangements can be made.
The medicines cannot be delivered outside of the UK.
This is so that extra medicines can be delivered to your UK address and a travel letter provided, if required.
It is important to declare your medical condition when buying travel insurance. If you don’t, they might refuse to help if your condition worsens or you become unwell. You should also check to see if the cost of replacing medicines is covered. This is very important if you are travelling to countries with a private healthcare system such as the USA where costs are considerably higher.
Please consider what you would do if your medicines were lost or stored incorrectly. It’s a good idea to take a copy of your most recent clinic letter from your doctor with you. Also please consider how you will store any medicines that need to be refrigerated. Some medicines can be stored out of the fridge for short period of time ONLY.
For medicines that cannot be sorted out the fridge, the homecare company may be able to supply you with a cool bag whilst travelling.
Who to contact if you have a problem
You will have access to patients care co-ordinator from the homecare provider who will be able to help you with any delivery problems. You will be given a contact number when you are registered with the homecare provider, (please refer to your welcome pack).
If you have a medical problem then you should always get in touch with the hospital straightway using the contact numbers provided by your clinic.
If you are experiencing on-going problems with the homecare services and you are unable to get a response from the homecare provider, please contact your clinic or the homecare pharmacy team at James Cook University Hospital.
You can contact the pharmacy homecare team via email on: [email protected]
Biologic medicines are more complex to manufacture than traditional medicines, like aspirin. They often need to be stored in a fridge and are usually given by injection. For your safety regular blood tests are often required whilst using these medicines. Your clinical team will discuss with you how often this will be.
Just like all medicines, once a brand of medicine has been used for many years, the patent expires and other companies can bring an alternative brand to the market. Many biologic medicines now have alternative brands that can be used. These alternatives are sometimes known as biosimilar.
They have all been shown to be as safe and effective as the original brand. The hospital may choose to vary which brand they offer to patients. Very few patients have any problems when switching from one brand to another, but if you do have any concerns about the brand you usually get you can talk to your clinical team.
You may be asked for feedback on your homecare experience. This will be an opportunity for you to voice your thoughts on the service, to help it to be as good as it can be. What you say in this feedback will help homecare providers; the hospital and the manufacturer better shape the service for what you need.
If you have any questions or concerns about the information in this leaflet, please contact your Consultant, specialist nurse or a member of their team caring for you.
Alternatively you can contact the pharmacy homecare team via email on: [email protected]
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.
To ensure we meet your communication needs please inform the Patient Experience Department of any special requirements, for example; braille or large print.
T: 01642 835964
E: [email protected]