Embedded pharmacists gain backing


Image: Monash University.

Monash University has been awarded $2 million to investigate embedding pharmacists in residential aged care facilities

Monash University’s Centre for Medicine Use and Safety (CMUS) has been awarded $2 million through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to investigate embedding pharmacists in residential aged care facilities.

The four-year project will see pharmacists implementing evidence-based recommendations to improve the safe and effective use of psychotropic medications in people living with dementia and in aged care.

It aims to directly address over-reliance on psychotropic medications, which has been highlighted as needing immediate action by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Previous Australian research suggests more than 60% of residents use psychotropic medications on a regular basis, while the PSA report Medicine Safety: Aged Care highlights that more than 90% of residents experience one or more medication-related problems.

“Rates of psychotropic medication use remain high, despite an overall lack of evidence for benefits and well-established risks,” said Project Lead and CMUS Director Professor Simon Bell.

“Pharmacist knowledge brokers will work in close partnership with nurses, GPs, residents and their families to provide training in managing changed behaviours and to coordinate education using evidence-based resources.

“If employing pharmacists as knowledge brokers to address evidence-practice gaps proves successful, the model may be suitable for translating clinical practice guidelines in other therapeutic areas,” said Professor Bell.

Project investigator Dr Amanda Cross, who completed her PhD on medication use in dementia in 2019, added that the team will apply new data-driven strategies to develop a model of continuous quality improvement.

“This will include digital health applications and benchmarking using new quality indicators,” she said.

The project, expected to commence later this year, will be conducted in partnership with the University of Queensland, Flinders University, the University of Sydney and five aged care provider organisations in WA, Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

It will also involve the NSW Therapeutic Advisory Group, specialist aged care pharmacy providers Gunn & McConville in Victoria, and Aspect Health in Queensland.

Last year, Monash University was also commissioned to develop new guidelines for the appropriate use of psychotropic medications in people living with dementia and in residential aged care.

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