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‘ This is being led by some well-known
geriatricians in collaboration with
pharmacists across NSW and WA and they
are quite keen that this should be led
by pharmacists who have experience in
residential aged-care medication reviews
because what they hope to show is that
if this works then there is a sustainable
model for actually bringing good
evidence to stopping medicines safely.’
Ms Payne of SummitCare agrees the role
of pharmacists in aged care is centred
on medicines issues.
‘One focus we have is identifying
medication supply issues between the
GP and pharmacists and the residents
and their families. But also take a
strategic view about the relationship
around the compliance management
team,’ she said.
‘ We are on the front foot of the strategic
relations of the pharmacist being part
of the broader allied health team in
delivering best practice outcomes for
the consumers which in our case are the
residents, with the other stakeholder
‘ Traditionally pharmacists have also
been a key supplier into the industry
and therefore the supplier agreement
between the aged-care supplier and
the pharmacy supplier has been a really
Ms Payne said SummitCare also insisted
that pharmacists be involved in staff
‘ This is where the sophistication of the
supply agreement is important. It must
be integrated into the other processes,’
‘ We don’t operate with suppliers if they
don’t get that their process innovation is
to help us to be better.
‘If you have a pharmacist sitting in their
own little world just processing scripts,
then they are missing the point. It’s a
much bigger picture because they are
a partner for the resident, working with
the doctor and the aged care provider
‘You can fairly judge the character of society by how it treats the
weak, the vulnerable, the most easily forgotten’.
These words, attributed to a number of world leaders over the years, are used
by Andrew McLachlan, Professor of Pharmacy (Aged Care) in the Faculty of
Pharmacy at the University of Sydney, to underscore society’s – and pharmacists’
– roles and responsibilities towards the aged.
Professor McLachlan said the increase in the ageing population was interpreted
differently by many people. ‘ This blow-out is interesting but simply being old
does not mean everyone will be heavily dependent on medical care,’ he said.
‘What we see now is people are living longer but they are living more healthily
so the more investment we have made earlier in healthy eating and intervening
to prevent disease means the period of disability that has been identified as an
area of concern as people get older is not the reality that we are seeing.
‘But there will be a greater need for a workforce to help people maintain
that wellness and to work with them around pharmacological and
nonpharmacological treatments and strategies to maintain that health and
wellbeing. That opportunity sees pharmacists come into a whole different set
of roles from what we regard as the traditional clinical roles, particularly in the
supply of medicines and information.’
He said he could see a ‘quite unique’ role for pharmacists in aged care.
‘In the aged care facility you could have a pharmacist whose role is a clinical role but
a non-dispensing role so they are a broker if you like of medicines issues,’ he said.
‘ They would liaise with doctors and supply pharmacists, they would liaise with
nursing staff and families and of course the person themselves to manage
issues. Every day medicines are administered to people in these facilities and
every day there is a challenge that needs to be dealt with.
‘ There is a range of things that we see pharmacists already doing in some areas
of medication supply and safety that could be applied perfectly to the age care
sector. Things like admissions and transitions and of course educating staff.
On more specific roles, Professor McLachlan pointed to the area of swallowing
difficulties and managing medicines in aged care facilities.
‘ The future view of course is that pharmacists may have some level of
prescribing rights and I can see a prescribing model that maintains
continuity of care for some selected medicines or perhaps you could have
pharmacist-initiated medicines in the same way we have nurse-initiated
medicines in both aged care facilities and hospitals.’
Other key areas of contribution were:
• QUM initiatives
• Advice on dose form modification in people with swallowing difficulties
• Medication reconciliation when patients are transferred
• Liaison with community pharmacy service providers
• Medication safety responsibilities
• Monitoring and dose adjustment
• Advice on management and preventing adverse effects.
IN HEALTHY LIVING
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