Every older Australian to be protected by a pharmacist: now is the time for action

Monday 1 March 2021; Now is the time for the Australian Government to act on the recommendations from the Royal Commission in Aged Care to protect all residents from the harms of inappropriate medicine use – including chemical restraint.


Recommendations to protect aged care residents by ensuring they have access to embedded pharmacists and timely, regular medication management reviews must be among the first priorities to be actioned.


PSA National President, Associate Professor Chris Freeman, said the recommendations demonstrated how urgently the medicine safety problems in aged care need to be addressed.


“Inappropriate chemical restraint, and polypharmacy leading to sedation, falls and avoidable hospitalisations are some of the biggest problems in aged care. Pharmacists are the key to solving these problems.


PSA is pleased the majority of recommendations in its submission have been endorsed by the Royal Commission, particularly in regards to embedding pharmacists in aged care facilities, working in multidisciplinary teams, and strengthening clinical governance.


PSA is particularly supportive of the following recommendations which must be implemented immediately:


  • Recommendation 38: Residential aged care providers to employ or retain allied health professionals, including pharmacists
  • Recommendation 58: Access and funding to specialists and other health practitioners, including pharmacists, through Multidisciplinary Outreach Services
  • Recommendation 64: Increased access and funding for pharmacists to conduct medication management reviews for every resident on entry to a facility, and annually thereafter, including respite care and transition care, by 1 January 2022
  • Recommendation 65: Restricting initiation of antipsychotic prescriptions in residential aged care to psychiatrists and geriatricians, by 1 November 2021
  • Recommendation 67: Improving data on the interaction between the health and aged care systems through implementation of unique identifiers for aged care facilities, by 1 July 2022


“The recommendations in the final report challenge all of us to comprehensively rethink the way we support and protect older Australians,” said Associate Professor Freeman.


“Putting in place quality-indicators, improving clinical governance, increasing accountability, providing better staff training and ongoing professional development are all measures required if generational change to our aged care system is to be achieved.


“All of Australia’s 34,000 pharmacists have a critical role in improving medicine-related harm and providing a better aged care system and support for older Australians.


“After 18 inquiries over 24 years, now is the time for action to improve the care for the Australians who need it the most.”


Media contact: PSA media 0487 922 176