PSA welcomes Government’s commitment to improve medicine safety in Aged Care
Friday 25 March 2022
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes the Government’s commitment to provide funding of $345.7 million to improve medicine safety for older Australians by embedding pharmacists in residential aged care facilities.
This morning, the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Greg Hunt, announced that from 1 January 2023, pharmacists will play an even greater role in dispensing medicines within Australia’s residential aged care facilities.
PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, was in attendance when the announcement was made.
“Today’s announcement from Minister Hunt has been long-awaited. This is a win for those residents who will now have greater access to medicines experts, our pharmacists, and I have no doubt that this sentiment will be shared by the aged care sector.
“PSA has been advocating for funding to improve medicine safety in residential aged care facilities since 2018, following the establishment of the Royal Commission into Aged Care – and now, almost four years later, the Government has taken action.
“The Royal Commission into Aged Care detailed well-known issues like the overuse of psychotropic medicines, and since then, troubling data on medication misadventure has continued to emerge.
“Since the Royal Commission was established, PSA has been working closely with all governments to implement recommendations outlined in our Medicine safety: aged care report from 2020, and it is incredibly pleasing to see that our advice has been heeded.
“With more than 19,000 Australians in residential aged care prescribed antipsychotics with no indication, the level of chemical restraint must be addressed. We also know that the more medicines someone is prescribed, the more likely it is to cause harm.
“The evidence is clear – pharmacists need to be an embedded part of the aged care equation if medication misadventure is to be minimised and rectified.
“As the custodians and experts of medication safety, embedding pharmacists in aged care is the obvious solution to address the longstanding issues of polypharmacy and chemical restraint in aged care facilities. We are delighted that the Government will now invest in our pharmacist workforce to improve the quality of care for aged care residents.
“Over the next four years, this $345.7 million contribution to supporting pharmacists embedded in aged care will make a significant difference to protecting and improving the quality of life for our aged care residents. Consultation on the most suitable model will occur over the next six months.
“It is crucial that aged care service providers are allowed the flexibility to determine how they secure pharmacist services. Some facilities may choose to contract pharmacists through community pharmacies, some may choose to employ a pharmacist directly, or via a third party.
“It can’t be a one size fits all approach as every facility is different. Therefore, all of these options must be accommodated.
“We look forward to working with the Minister and the Department of Health on the implementation.” A/Prof Freeman said.
PSA is here to support Australian pharmacists who are interested in working within the aged care sector. For more information on becoming a Residential Aged Care Pharmacist, please visit this link. PSA also offers the Residential Aged Care Pharmacist: Foundation Training Program, available here.
PSA’s Medicine safety: aged care report found that:
- Over 95% of people living in aged care facilities have at least one problem with their medicines detected at the time of a medicines review; most have three problems
- 50% of people with dementia are taking medicines with anticholinergic properties, which can worsen confusion and other symptoms of dementia.
- One fifth of people living in aged care are on antipsychotics; more than half use the medicine for too long.
The Report from the Royal Commission in to Aged Care Quality and Safety recommended that “the Australian Government immediately improve access to quality medication management reviews for people receiving aged care by:
- allowing and funding pharmacists from 1 January 2022 to conduct reviews on entry to residential care and annually thereafter, or more often if there has been a significant change to the person receiving care’s condition or medication regimen;
- amending the criteria for eligibility for residential medication management reviews to include people in residential respite care and transition care;
- monitoring quality and consistency of medication management reviews.”
The Royal Commission detailed well known issues in medicine management – notably the use of restrictive practices which could not be justified in 90% of cases, and overuse of sedating medicines.
PSA has suggested that a flexible practice model is needed to give aged care providers and residents the best access to pharmacist-delivered care, and accreditation of pharmacists entering aged care to perform medication reviews must remain mandatory to support consistent, high quality care.
Media contact: PSA media 0424 777 463