The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) strongly backs a number of proposed recommendations by counsel assisting during final submissions at the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety that, if adopted, will improve medicine safety for older Australians.
In particular, PSA endorses the proposed recommendation that pharmacists be embedded within all aged care facilities across Australia.
PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman said pharmacists were critical to ensure the safe and quality use of medicines in aged care.
“Counsel assisting has recognised the vital role of pharmacists in tackling the problems of overuse of opioids, chemical restraints and inappropriate use of antibiotics”.
“PSA is pleased counsel assisting has adopted our recommendation for pharmacists to have a greater role in aged care and be embedded in these environments. We maintain pharmacists need to be able to spend more time on the ground in aged care, to be able to protect residents when it comes to the safe and effective use of medicines.
“The Aged Care Quality and Safety Royal Commission in its interim report has already recognised the urgent need to address the critical medicine safety failures in aged care.
“Our Medicine Safety: Aged Carereport found more than 95 per cent of people living in aged care facilities have at least one problem with their medicine and most have three. Many of these problems are very serious, and potentially catastrophic.
“For too long pharmacists have felt powerless that the system has not supported them in addressing these problems.
“If adopted, these recommendations would provide real hope that our older and vulnerable Australians will receive safer care.
PSA endorses the establishment of benchmarking and public reporting of quality indicators which must include data on medicine safety.
Associate Professor Freeman said comprehensive indicators on the safe and quality use of medicines currently do not exist.
“The public reporting and measurement of this data is necessary to improve medicine safety,” he said.
“We know that when pharmacists spend more time on the ground in aged care they can make a meaningful difference to how medicines are prescribed and administered to improve safety for all residents over time.”
Associate Professor Freeman urged the Commission to adopt the recommendation to establish an aged care workforce planning division and an aged care workforce fund.
“PSA supports a staffing ratio of at least 0.5 FTE pharmacists per 100 residents,” he said.
“This will ensure that pharmacists have the time to properly address medication management issues within the aged care environment.”
PSA also welcomes the proposed establishment of a dedicated research council to conduct research into effective programs to improve the use of medicines in aged care.
“Up until now research into aged care has been ad-hoc and small-scale. This will provide a better opportunity to develop the evidence base for best practice models of care that will improve medicine safety for older Australians.
“Australians now know just how devastating medicine safety problems are among our aged care residents. They deserve action. Adopting these recommendations will begin to fundamentally shift aged care in a direction that finally makes medicines safer for all.”
PSA’s submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety can be found at https://my.psa.org.au/s/article/Aged-Care-Quality-and-Safety
PSA’s Medicine Safety: Aged Carereport can be found at https://www.psa.org.au/advocacy/working-for-our-profession/medicine-safety/aged-care/