Clarity on aged care on-site pharmacist skills revealed

New credentialing requirements announced as pharmacists prepare to take on aged care roles.

The federal Department of Health and Aged Care has announced that pharmacists will need an Aged Care credential to become an aged care on-site pharmacist. Those who want to provide medication reviews such as Residential Medication Management Reviews and/or Home Medicine Reviews reviews will also need to complete a Medication Management Review (MMR).

Kerri Barwick, PSA General Manager of Education and Training at PSA, explains what that involves.

What’s the difference between accredited and credentialed pharmacists?

The change from ‘accredited’ to ‘credentialed’ pharmacist was initiated after the Australian Pharmacy Council was asked by the Department of Health and Aged Care to design accreditation standards for education providers, such as PSA, following the closure of the Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacy (AACP).

In order to access government funding, a credential will be required that meets those standards for MMR and Aged Care.

Why have these changes been made?

The AACP’s accreditation process was self-regulated and wasn’t governed by an accrediting body.

Standards are now in place to ensure the quality of the education delivered – including accreditation standards for educators and performance outcomes for learners, said Ms Barwick.

Because ‘credentialed’ is now looked at from the perspective of meeting performance outcomes at the end of the program, the AACP-based assessment style – which entailed multiple choice questionnaires on clinical information and communication – doesn’t fit within this model.

‘To meet all those performance outcomes and accreditation standards, you couldn’t run the same program,’ she said. ‘It wouldn’t meet the standards.’

The skills required to provide MMR and Aged Care services also require additional specialisation, said Ms Barwick.

‘For the government to be able to pay pharmacists for those services, they want to guarantee the quality,’ she said.

What will the new credentials involve?

PSA’s MMR and Aged Care credential programs, currently undergoing accreditation with APC, will involve case-based discussion and learning, along with simulations.

‘This will give learners as many real-life examples as we can without requiring a large amount of time learning on the job,’ explained Ms Barwick.

‘The PSA will also deliver both the MMR and Aged Care credential, so you’ll be able to enrol in either or the whole package.’

PSA’s MMR and Aged Care credentials should be available for pharmacists in June 2024, pending the outcome of the next accreditation meeting.

When do the changes take effect?

Not for a while. This week (29 April), the government announced an extension to Medication Review Numbers (MRNs) to support credentialed pharmacists to continue providing MMR services until 30 June 2025 during the transition to the new credentialing system

Pharmacists must transition to the new qualification within that 12-month period.

PSA has been involved in discussions with the Department ‘for some time’ to ensure transition arrangements are in place to minimise disruption to patient services, and allow the existing workforce to continue providing MMR services in the immediate term, said PSA National President Associate Professor Fei Sim FPS.

​’PSA continues to approach this fast-moving practice area with the intent to support our workforce, and to ensure the credentialing and recredentialing process is achievable and affordable,’ she said.

Do I have to start credentialing from scratch?

No! PSA will have a process for recognition of prior learning for the MMR and Aged Care credential. 

PSA has also mapped the assessment delivered by AACP against the performance outcomes and assessed the existing gaps, said Ms Barwick.

‘For example, for the MMR credential, there’s a performance outcome around cultural safety and cultural competence which pharmacists accredited by the AACP or PSA in the last 12 months will not have fulfilled,’ she said.

To fill that gap pharmacists have the option to:

  • submit evidence to show they meet performance, for example through undertaking training programs such as the Deadly pharmacists foundation training course, free for all pharmacists
  • complete an assessment to meet the performance outcome component.

‘Currently accredited pharmacists who want to get the MMR credential are able to do so for free under the PSA Professional Plus membership,’ said Ms Barwick.

To ensure prior learning is recognised, PSA has initiated an Expression of Interest for the MMR credential.

Where can I learn more?

For those interested in learning more or obtaining an MMR or Aged care credential, it’s not too late to register for CPC24 – held this weekend in Cairns from 3–5 May.

Rub shoulders with Kerri Barwick MPS (centre) and other members of team PSA at CPC24

Attendees will benefit from sessions addressing the credential standards from David Laffan, Assistant Secretary, Pharmacy Branch, Department of Health and Aged Care, as well as hear from the PSA team including A/Prof Sim, CEO Steve Morris and Credentialing Manager Sarah Gillespie FPS. 

Pharmacists will be able to network with fellow credentialed pharmacists who have experience in aged care.

‘Credentialed pharmacists are often working in isolation, so being able to meet up with others [in the same boat] is a unique opportunity,’ said Ms Barwick.

PSA is also available to meet pharmacists’ education needs as the new credentialing system takes effect, said Ms Barwick.

‘Because the on-site aged care component is quite new for some credentialed pharmacists, PSA will provide the Residential Aged Care Pharmacist: Foundation Training Program free as a Professional Plus Member benefit,’ said Ms Barwick.

While the course is not equivalent to the credential required to fill an on-site aged care pharmacist role, it provides insight into what the role might look like, along with an introduction to the aged care system.

‘This training and [accompanying] videos can give pharmacists an idea of if they want to pursue an aged care credential,’ she said. ‘In the next 12 months, PSA will also develop targeted CPD for credentialed pharmacists.’

All other inquiries about the MMR and Aged Care credentials can be directed to PSA’s training and learning support team here.