Today’s announcement by the federal government to invest $3.7 million to embed pharmacists in aged care facilities across the ACT will improve medication management and is welcomed by the peak national body for pharmacists, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA). However, a national commitment is urgently needed to embed pharmacists in residential aged care facilities across the country.
The announcement goes part way to implementing PSA’s pre-budget submission call for $17 million seed funding for a 12-month program to integrate pharmacists in aged care facilities. The program would be designed to ensure appropriate evidence of the economic and clinical benefits was captured and evaluated, while being adaptable to specific aged care facilities.
In welcoming the announcement, PSA National President Dr Chris Freeman noted PSA’s Medicine Safety: Take Care report, released in January 2019, showed medicine safety in aged care is a major problem in Australia.
“PSA’s Medicine Safety report reveals 98% of residents in aged care facilities have at least one medication-related problem and at least half of residents are exposed to at least one inappropriate medicine,” Dr Freeman said.
“Embedding pharmacists in residential aged care facilities improves quality use of medicines and enables greater communication and collaboration between members of the multidisciplinary team. This has already been demonstrated in the ACT in the partnership between the University of Canberra and Goodwin Aged Care Services.
“PSA envisages that aged care facilities would have the ability engage a pharmacist from a community pharmacy or externally, based on the specific needs of the facility and skill set of the pharmacist. The role of the pharmacist would be targeted towards medication safety and clinical governance activities building and leading a quality use of medicine culture for aged care.
“Pharmacists in aged care facilities are needed to identify, prevent and manage medication-related problems as well as support health professionals and facility staff in the quality use of medicines. For example, pharmacists in aged care have been shown to safely reduce the use of high-risk medicines such as antipsychotics, benzodiazepines and opioids.
“We welcome this announcement to support aged care residents in the ACT benefit from the knowledge and skills of pharmacists in improving safety with their medicines. We encourage the government to work towards further roll-out of embedding pharmacists in aged care nationwide, particularly as the benefits of this specific ACT funding become apparent.”