Hillcroft Care Homes find real benefits of having ATLAS eMAR and a local pharmacy provider

Gill Reynolds began her Hillcroft career in 1999. Within 12 months of starting work she was appointed the Matron of the Caton Green home. She remained there for four years before she moved to the Morecambe care home where she was Matron for a further eight years. With more than 20 years of nursing experience Gill was made General Manager of the company and Head of Nursing. Then in 2014 Gill became a Director of Hillcroft Nursing Home group who own six nursing homes in the north west of England. Gill supports the Matrons on a day to day basis. Gill  describes her experience and benefits of the ATLAS eMAR system across the Hillcroft care home group and specifically how this model allows homes to choose a pharmacy provider.
What are some of the challenges facing industry?
Chain of commands when decisions need to be made. Often, there tends to be a lot of people involved in decision-making processes. This makes life difficult. I am at the end where the residents are; providing care, medicines management and the streamlining of services for patients and making sure that we have met and resolved the various challenges. These include having the right number of staff to resident ratio, and having the right systems for medicines down to the level of ensuring we have the correct prescriptions and the right use of the medicines. In the past it has been a problem identifying where things ‘go wrong’ and trying to find out the root causes. This is where I believe having the support of a local pharmacy is better than dealing with a central pharmacy that provides services to multiple care homes. Of course if we are issued an acute prescription, it is better for us to use a local pharmacy rather than a central one. It’s all about working collaboratively with the local pharmacy staff who are trained and happy to use technology to provide smarter care for residents in care homes. 
What are your experiences with ATLAS eMAR?
ATLAS eMAR is accessible, its easy to use, easy to handle and easy to hold. Its easily transported around the home and the information is all there in front of you. So, if an agency nurse was to be on duty, they would find it is easy to get on with; any items that should be issued to residents are highlighted in red and anything already given and not required to be issued is a green colour. The fact that it warns when an item is about to be issued in error is great. Similarly if a member of staff selects a medicine that does not belong to that resident, ATLAS will not allow it to be issued. The digital ID signature on the device is good, because traditionally when medicines were issued, signature would be handwritten on MARs and this caused constant confusion (especially if you have two staff members with the same name) and appeared untidy. It also was a problem when tracing and tracking medicine to meet audit objectives. With an acute prescription quite often, we manually enter these items into ATLAS eMAR because we want to be able to issue the medication right away. Using ATLAS eMAR has supported the integration and consolidation of our medicines management. We absolutely love ATLAS eMAR.
Has ATLAS eMAR helped with regulations?
At present all our homes are fully compliant where medicines management is concerned. This has not always been the case. In fact because we used to have missing signatures on MARs was what prompted us to look toward technology to support medicines management. For us, it is about keeping compliant and good in all areas. This is our main objective.
ATLAS eMAR is helping us meet CQC inspections and care home regulations where medicines management is concerned. We have had discussion with our inspectors in relation to medicines management since 2001, and whilst CQC do not recommend a type of medicines management system (i.e. technology vs. paper recording), they say it is down to care home teams to ensure what we are doing and implementing is safe and practical. CQC have recently informed us that they disagree with the de-blister packs that we used to have and would prefer all medicines being issued from original packaging which ATLAS eMAR works with.
What can you now do that you couldn’t do before?
I think the great thing about the technology is that staff cannot overpass a signature or take shortcuts, and so this also means as managers and auditors, we can go into the system and look to see if there are any issues.
In your experience what has ATLAS eMAR brought to your care home?
The technology allows medicines management to become a more fluid exercise rather than a tedious chore. Interacting with the technology allows swifter processes; the auditing of processes becomes more manageable too. The ATLAS eMAR provides more information whereas before (with MARs), we couldn’t see when items were prescribed, dispensed or clearly see when items were issued by the pharmacy. The technology provides more clarity in this regard. Any changes that are made – we can see all these now. We would never have been able to see all this on MARs before. Most of the time, the issues are down to the prescriptions (and not pharmacy).
What’s been the biggest improvement you’ve seen since implementing ATLAS eMAR?
We use daily reports that are emailed to managers to help us understand if there are any missing signatures and we use this to help streamline aspects of the care we provide. This has been one of the biggest improvement.
Would you recommend ATLAS eMAR?
Yes. We have had another home come to look and interact with the ATLAS eMAR in our home and they are now investigating using ATLAS eMAR for use in their care home to support patients and medicines management. The fact that care homes can use the technology with any local pharmacy is brilliant.

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