More time on the ground

Pharmacists need to play a greater role in aged care facilities, PSA president believes, with access to MBS funding a possibility

There is a pressing need for pharmacists to play a regular, ongoing role in medication management within aged care facilities, said Associate Professor Chris Freeman, national president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, believes.

As one of its recommendations in response to the 2019 Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, PSA called for the implementation “as a matter of priority”, for the government to “physically embed pharmacists within aged care facility teams by increasing funding allocations to Residential Medication Management Reviews and Quality Use of Medicines services.”

Speaking at the NSW/ACT PSA Therapeutic Update in Terrigal, last weekend, Associate Professor Freeman elaborated, saying “wouldn’t it be great to have a member of staff in the pharmacy who also had a role in the aged care facility to track those links, to deal with those issues when they arise?”

“Hence we have called for funding for better time for pharmacists on the ground on residential aged care facilities.”

There were also moves underway to ensure pharmacists gain remuneration for participating in case conferences for residents within aged care facilities, Associate Professor Freeman said. 

“At the moment if you participate in a case conference, you’re donating your time for free,” he said. 

“This needs to be amended if we’re to encourage a team environment, and to give a stimulus for people to get together to discuss resident’s care.”

Prof Freeman said PSA was “advocating strongly for pharmacists to be included [in the proposed MBS item extension]. We’ve made representations to the health minister around that, and his advice to us is that if there is a positive recommendation from the ongoing MBS task force, then he would work towards implementing this as a priority.” 

There has been criticism of the quality and consistency of Quality Use of Medicine services delivered into residential aged care, Associate Professor Freeman said.

“Part of the issue is the targeting. We know we have some fundamental issues in aged care related to the prescribing of psychotropic medicines and opiate medicines. The plan moving forward is that some of the QM services are targeted directly to both of those two issues, and to a third, antimicrobials.

This was part of another Royal Commission recommendation to allow pharmacists to undertake audits of these medicines “and actions taken to try to curb the inappropriate prescribing of those medicines”.



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  1. Paige

    Kudos to CF here. Have seen the competition for nursing home tenders plummet because when you run the numbers the EBIT is just non-existent or minimal for huge stress. Competition and nursing home expectations mean you’re basically working for free. I’d encourage anyone to actually run the full numbers on their nursing home. Trust me, its not as profitable as you think.

    • Paul Sapardanis

      Paige this is one of many examples of services we offer in pharmacy that’s profit less. NDSS. vaccinations stat decs bp monitoring etc. Do we need to be saved from ourselves?

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