The Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) has expressed disappointment at the federal government’s decision to cancel a commitment to provide $345.7 million over four years for the embedding of an accredited pharmacist in residential aged care homes.
ACCPA CEO Tom Symondson said regular medication reviews and improved medication management in aged care homes were recommendations from the Aged Care Royal Commission aimed at enhancing the quality of care in residential aged care.
A successful trial in selected aged care homes in 2021 found that residents were able to have their medications reviewed and managed onsite by an accredited pharmacist. It also ensured that the pharmacist could interact with the resident’s GP and provide advice to onsite clinical staff.
Symondson emphasised that regular reviews of medication for residents and access to onsite advice were crucial to ensure that the types of medication prescribed and dosages remained relevant, thereby ensuring quality and consistency of standards of the review.
“Medicines clearly have beneficial effects which can improve health and wellbeing, but some may also have harmful unintended consequences. An accredited pharmacist on site can review medication where a resident has had unintended effects to ensure dosages are administered correctly,” he added.
The government has announced that funding for pharmacy services to aged care homes will go towards community pharmacists to conduct Resident Medication Management Reviews (RMMR).
Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler said during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on 26 April that the onsite pharmacists program would no longer be delivered by aged care facilities, but by community pharmacies instead.
He announced a change to the program that was inherited from the former government’s tenure to improve medication compliance and medication reviews in residential aged care facilities.
This move contradicts a previous announcement made by the government in December last year that the $350 million would be directed to aged care providers so that “residential aged care homes can choose to employ or engage pharmacists to tailor medication management to best meet the residents’ and facility’s needs.”