We want to be embedded in aged care, say pharmacists


Not a zero-sum game: pharmacists should be able to perform medication management activities – whether they come from community pharmacy or elsewhere, says PSA

This week AJP covered the topic of integrating non-dispensing pharmacists into aged care facilities.

Pharmacist researcher Dr Janet Sluggett told the Royal Commission into Aged Care that non-dispensing pharmacists could undertake a range of activities to create safer medicines use in aged care facilities.

However Pharmacy Guild Acting National President Trent Twomey said embedding non-dispensing pharmacists in aged care facilities would be “the wrong approach”.

“The key is to bolster the connection between local community pharmacies and the aged care facilities, so that the pharmacist dispensing the medication is also the pharmacist overseeing the medication management for the patient,” he told AJP.

“Our view is that wherever possible, the delivery of these services should be directly connected to medicines supply by the local pharmacy.”

Pharmacists whether they come from community pharmacy or elsewhere should be able to perform these activities.—Dr Chris Freeman

PSA released its submission to the Royal Commission on Thursday, making it clear that it believes embedding pharmacists is the answer to addressing medicine-related harm in aged care.

“Pharmacists embedded in facilities can contribute to improving quality use of medicines facility-wide and reducing harm caused by overuse of medicines,” said PSA national president Dr Chris Freeman.

“It has been clear through evidence provided to the Royal Commission that we need to have pharmacists protecting patients from the inappropriate prescribing and use of medicines.”

PSA told AJP that both community pharmacists and non-community pharmacists should be able to be embedded in residential aged care facilities.

“It’s actually about time on the ground in the facility addressing the multitude of medication management issues,” said Dr Freeman.

“That person should have the right skills to do that. Arguing over where they come from does residents a disservice because it’s actually about devoting the time based in the facility to address these issues and we need the funding to be able to do this,” he told AJP.

“Pharmacists whether they come from community pharmacy or elsewhere should be able to perform these activities.”

PSA is advocating for more funding for pharmacists to deliver on the range of medication management services within aged care facilities, saying in its submission to the Royal Commission that the limited funding currently available is “grossly inadequate”.

However the Guild’s Mr Twomey is not as hopeful that funding will come forward for such a service delivery model.

“Put simply, there is no funding for such a model, and no likelihood that funding will materialise any time soon. And even if funded, it would still be the wrong approach,” he said, adding that the focus should be on local community pharmacists.

The majority (77%) of AJP readers who responded to a poll said they too believe non-dispensing pharmacists should be embedded in aged care facilities.

In our poll run over less than 24 hours, we received 235 votes (as of 4.45pm 18 July) to the question: Do you think there should be specific roles for non-dispensing pharmacists embedded in aged care facilities?

77% of AJP readers who responded to a poll said they believe non-dispensing pharmacists should be embedded in aged care facilities.

Forty-two percent (99 votes) said “Yes, I think it’s a good idea and should be implemented immediately.”

Thirty-five percent (82 votes) said “Yes, I think it’s a good idea but only if there is appropriate funding for it.”

Seventeen percent (40 votes) said “No, I think local community pharmacists should be playing a bigger role in this space instead.”

Four percent (10 votes) said “No, I think off-site accredited consultant pharmacists should be providing more RMMRs and QUM services instead.”

And four people voted for “other”, “none of the above” or “no changes changes need to be made to the current system”.

One “other” comment was that: “Local community pharmacists should play a bigger role in conjunction with accredited pharmacists – there must be a link between the medication supply and medication management – funding should also be given for this service.”

PSA doesn’t preclude community pharmacists from its actions for change in 2023, stating that community pharmacist roles should be enhanced to have a greater level of responsibility for medicines management.

It also calls for the accessibility of community pharmacies in primary care to be utilised and built upon.

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