Pharmacist highlights aged care payment anomaly


Webstercare Managing Director Gerard Stevens (r) demonstrates to Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt (l) and chief-of-staff Nick Hartland (centre) the many processes and systems that go into supporting safe and effective medication management and profile curation for residents of aged care facilities.
Webstercare Managing Director Gerard Stevens (r) demonstrates to Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt (l) and chief-of-staff Nick Hartland (centre) the many processes and systems that go into supporting safe and effective medication management and profile curation for residents of aged care facilities.

A letter to the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care prompted a meeting about challenges being faced by pharmacies who provide residential aged care services

This month, Webstercare welcomed visit from Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt AM to discuss streamlining the provision of medication management services in aged care homes.

Minister Wyatt met with Webstercare managing director and pharmacist Gerard Stevens, hearing about the difficulties faced by pharmacies who support the often complex and extensive medication needs of residents living in aged care facilities.

“I was impressed with the Minister’s level of knowledge and he asked many excellent questions regarding ensuring continuity of care and service for aged care residents,” Mr Stevens said.

The Ministerial visit came after a letter from Mr Stevens highlighting concerns about challenges being faced by pharmacies who provide services to residential aged care facilities.

“I wanted to ensure that Minister Wyatt understood an anomaly in pharmacist payments for professional services provided to frail aged care residents, when compared to professional service payments provided for community clients,” said Mr Stevens.

“When a pharmacy client crosses the threshold into a residential aged care, home payments for professional pharmacy services stop. A community patient has full access to various MedsChecks conducted by pharmacists.

“When the same customer crosses the threshold into residential care, the pharmacist continues to provide these services, but the payments stop with immediate effect.

“If an aged care resident deteriorates overnight, the pharmacy is expected to deliver urgent pain relief or antibiotics free-of-charge and, in the majority of cases, the pharmacist does.

“Urgent deliveries help to keep frail elderly residents from being admitted to emergency departments where they are transferred from a high-care, familiar environment to a low-care hospital environment.

“A Medicare fee is payable for a doctor to provide an emergency service to an aged care resident but no payment exists for pharmacies to provide similar emergency services.”

Minister Wyatt expressed his appreciation of Webstercare’s contribution to innovations in aged care which provide quality and safety in medication management.

He encouraged Webstercare to prepare a submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety around:

  • Logic of quality and safety;
  • Safe processes that are transparent; and
  • How medications can be handled safely in high-risk areas, including: Identification of the resident from photo ID on the pack; crushing medicines; cytotoxic medicines; and barcode scanning of medicines for additional safety and accountability.

The Minister also toured Webstercare’s pharmacy – Metropolitan Pharmacy Services – where he was shown what goes into medication profile management and curation, and the necessary behind-the-scenes processes that ensure complete accuracy of medication dispensed by pharmacists using Webstercare systems.

Mr Stevens said he was grateful for the Minister’s time and interest.

“We were delighted when Minister Wyatt accepted our invitation and even happier to discover he had allotted an hour from his busy schedule. That he spent a further half hour with us speaks volumes about his interest and level of engagement,” Mr Stevens said.

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