Children and young people across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan are being taught how to safely swallow tablets and capsules so they can switch from liquid medication for pills in a Wales-first initiative.
KidzMedz Cymru is the first of its kind in Wales and is teaching patients over the age of five how to safely swallow tablets and capsules so they can switch from liquid medications or be prescribed pills as soon as they start treatment.
The programme launched at the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales in June 2023 after receiving a £9,500 grant from the Cardiff & Vale Health Charity Staff Lottery fund.
Over the next 12 months, it’s expected that 400 children and young people will learn how to safely swallow tablets and capsules and the use of prescribed liquid medicines in Cardiff and Vale University Health Board will be reduced by 40%.
After the initial 12-month trial period, it’s hoped that KidzMedz Cymru will be rolled-out across Wales.
Pills have numerous advantages over liquid medicine for patients, their carers and healthcare professionals, including:
For children and young people, pills are less sickly, contain less sugar and children who swallow pills tend to have better adherence to their medication regimes
For carers, pills have a longer shelf-life, do not require a fridge for storage, are easier to transport and more readily available in local pharmacies
Prescribers are less prone to errors when writing prescriptions and can prescribe larger quantities
For pharmacists, pills are more commonly stocked in local pharmacies compared to liquids.
Bethan Davies, Lead Pharmacist at the Children’s Hospital for Wales, said: “KidzMedz Cymru is an initiative teaching children and young adults how to swallow tablets and capsules.
“We’ve had great success so far — particularly with one patient who received his medicines previously through a gastrostomy. By learning how to take tablets and capsules, we have been able to remove the gastrostomy and his quality of life is has improved greatly. His family have recently been able to take him on holiday for the first time.
“We hope to continue seeing great success from this project and are aiming to have 400 children learning to take tablets and capsules by the end of the year.”
Children and young people will be taught how to safely swallow pills using an evidence-based six step technique. They will start off by choosing a drink of their choice — either water or sugar-free fruit juice — and will gradually work through a series of different sized sweets.
Once they complete the programme and can safely and confidently swallow tablets or capsules, they will receive an education kit containing a pill packet, water bottle and certificate. Parents and carers will also receive an information leaflet.
The scheme was first developed at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle in 2020 and has won the NHS Sustainability Award, the HSJ Value Award for Pharmacy and Optimisation and the Bright Ideas in Health Award for Demonstrating an Impact upon Quality Improvement.