Pharmacists already play a pivotal role in the healthcare system, and also in aged care and home settings.
Their expertise in medication management and their ability to work as part of multidisciplinary teams make them invaluable in providing quality care to older Australians.
We wanted to highlight the various roles pharmacists play in aged care, both in residential facilities and home settings, and discuss the recent developments in this area.
Pharmacists in Home Settings
Pharmacists can provide a range of services to older Australians living in their own homes. These services aim to improve medication management and are particularly beneficial for individuals with palliative needs. Two key services are the MedsCheck and Home Medication Review (HMR) programs.
The MedsCheck service involves a one-on-one discussion and medication review provided by a pharmacist in the pharmacy. This service addresses any concerns or questions a person may have about their medicines. The Home Medication Review (HMR) program, on the other hand, is designed to support the quality use of medicines and assist in minimising adverse medicine events. The HMR must be requested by the person’s usual GP and is performed by accredited pharmacists.
Pharmacists in Residential Aged Care
The role of pharmacists in residential aged care is evolving, with the federal government recently pledging $350 million to fund community pharmacists to work on-site in residential aged care homes in a clinical role. The Australian Pharmacy Council (APC) has been tasked with developing accreditation standards to provide quality assurance oversight of these roles.
In addition to this, pharmacists can also conduct Residential Medication Management Reviews (RMMRs). Similar to HMRs, RMMRs aim to support the quality use of medicines and assist in minimising adverse medicine events for people living in approved Australian Government-funded Aged Care Facilities.
Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) is another program that supports the delivery of services and activities by pharmacists within Australian Government-funded Aged Care Facilities.
The Broader Role of Pharmacists
Pharmacists with their unique skillset and knowledge can overlap with other allied health professionals’ practices. For example, advice offered by allied health professionals may impact medication administration and management. Pharmacists can also play a crucial role in identifying issues such as physical or cognitive decline and can flag the involvement of other healthcare professionals.
Resources and Further Learning
There are several resources available for pharmacists working in palliative care. The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has developed the Palliative Care – Essential CPE document that helps define the pharmacists role in delivering palliative care.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) aims to improve medication access and affordability for all Australians. For people with palliative needs, the PBS can provide a more extensive range of subsidised medicines.
MIMS Online has information on medications including guidance on those suitable for crushing where people have difficulty swallowing or have an enteral feeding tube in place. The Tasmanian Palliative Care Formulary is another Australian resource for healthcare professionals who care for adults requiring palliative care.
To summarise, pharmacists play a crucial role in aged care, providing essential services that improve medication management and overall quality of care for older Australians. As the aged care sector continues to evolve, the role of pharmacists is likely to expand and become even more integral to the provision of quality care.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as a general overview of the topic and should not be construed as professional or medical advice.
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