The Federal Government has committed to embedding pharmacists in aged care facilities nationwide.
The four-year project, announced in the Federal Budget, will cost $345 million and begin on 1 January 2023. Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said the investment supported the “oldest, most frail Australians”.
He said, following the Royal Commission into Aged Care, pharmacies embedded within residential aged care facilities would play a fundamental role in dispensing medicines.
“Over the next six months, we’ll work in a period of co-design with the Guild and with other elements across our health system to design and to implement that model,” he said.
“But embedded pharmacy within aged care, with a $345 million contribution, will make a difference to saving lives and protecting lives and improving lives in aged care.”
Goodwin Aged Care Services considers itself a pioneer in the sector, having first hired a pharmacist for their facilities in December 2018, following a collaborative research and feasibility study conducted by the University of Canberra.
Goodwin’s in-house pharmacist Kirolos Wasef said having an embedded pharmacy had led to minimal use of chemical restrains, which is unique to many other facilities.
He works over all of the Goodwin facilities with residents on their medication management, including monitoring for any complications that may arise, vaccinations and staff training to ensure they feel confident in administering medication.
“Recognising the role and importance of pharmacists in residential aged care is a good step forward not only for the wellbeing of residents but for the role of pharmacists by providing new opportunities and increasing the scope of our practice and ability to help our communities,” Mr Wasef said.
Goodwin chair of the Board of Directors Liesel Wett described the embedded pharmacy funding as a welcome addition to improving medication management industry-wide.
“This is something that we strongly advocated for in our submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in early 2019 as a way of improving the physical and mental wellbeing for all residents in aged care,” Ms Wett said.
According to CEO Sue Levy, Goodwin has a long list of positive outcomes from the community pharmacist hire, including improvement in resident wellbeing and staff support.
“Improvements and time reductions in medication rounds which allows carers to spend more time with residents, better communication with families and other health professionals and earlier identification of side effects have all been wonderful outcomes – and there are many more,” Ms Levy said.
“They (staff) receive more training and education, which allows them to be more confident in their roles, and they always know they have a professional to consult if they have any questions or uncertainties.
“The pharmacist’s role in Australian residential care is about ensuring quality use of medicines and conducting timely reviews of residents’ medications, which has great benefits to quality of life and reduces hospitalisations.
“We’re glad that this position can become standard for other care providers in the country.”