Pharmacists emerging as crucial players in rural home palliative care


Pharmacists are gaining recognition for their crucial role in bolstering home-based palliative care in rural areas.

Recent research highlights their capacity not only to facilitate patients’ choice to remain at home but also to provide substantial relief, comfort and reassurance to patients, caregivers and families.

Led by the University of South Australia with support from the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, the study underscores the significant impact of home palliative care pharmacists in rural regions, particularly in South Australia. It sheds light on their effectiveness in medication management, enhancing communication among patients and healthcare teams and reducing the burden of frequent GP visits.

Lead researcher and pharmacist Tash Downing emphasises the invaluable contribution pharmacists make to home palliative care, a role often overlooked.

“Many palliative care patients prefer to be cared for at home, where they are most comfortable and closer to loved ones. However, home-based care comes with many challenges, one of which is medication management,” Downing said.

Proper medication management, however, can alleviate symptoms and enhance the quality of life for patients. Integrating pharmacists into rural palliative care teams not only addresses workforce shortages but also “alleviate rural workforce shortages and improve the quality of care that is available for rural palliative patients,” Downing added.

The pilot program, initiated by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and funded by the South Australian Department for Health and Wellbeing, paved the way for pharmacists to deliver home-based care services in regional South Australia. The study, assessing this model of care, explores the experiences of healthcare professionals collaborating with palliative care patients within this pilot.

Co-researcher Dr Gemma Skaczkowski from the University of South Australia’s Department of Rural Health underscores the success of this rural palliative care model, emphasising the benefits observed by healthcare professionals. “Further work to understand how to sustainably fund this model of care and what optimal implementation of this role looks like on a broader scale is now needed.”

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.

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