From the President: Onboard with aged care

Earlier this year the outgoing Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the government would allocate $345.7 million in the 2022–23 federal Budget.

This landmark announcement was to improve medication management for residential aged care residents by funding onsite pharmacists in residential aged care facilities. It represented a commitment to tackle the appalling medicine safety problems outlined in PSA’s Medicine safety: take care report and the findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

To put this into context, this is the single largest investment by the Australian Government in pharmacists outside of the Community Pharmacy Agreement. It represents a three and a half times investment beyond that currently allocated for RMMR and QUM programs combined. It was a hard-fought win secured by PSA over many years.

‘This is the single largest investment by the Australian Government in pharmacists outside of the Community Pharmacy Agreement.’

During the election campaign, PSA received confirmation of bipartisan support for this policy. This was important.

It was a clear demonstration that both major sides of politics understand and value the critically important role that pharmacists play as part of the health team, to improve the safe and effective use of medicines. It also depoliticised an important investment in the wellbeing of our oldest Australians.

As we welcome an incoming government ahead of the planned commencement on 1 January 2023, I wanted to focus on what onsite aged care pharmacists will mean for you.

Firstly, the program will provide new and exciting career opportunities for pharmacists. There will be increased demand for pharmacist services in aged care. The skills of pharmacists currently delivering clinical aged care services will be in high demand. It’s clear that more pharmacists will be needed. If this is a career pathway that interests you, it is worth considering accreditation now.

Secondly, it beds down the essential role of pharmacists onsite in care teams, providing a model for expansion to other environments, such as disability care.

Thirdly, it will mean all pharmacists who liaise with aged care facilities have a point of contact inhouse who will be across medicines management and be able to support issues such as transitions of care and dose administration aids.

We only have one chance to get this right. PSA is working hard with government and stakeholders on the implementation of this program. We are committed to ensuring industry, government and the profession is ready to help aged care take a giant leap forward in protecting residents from the harm medicines can cause.

PS: Stay tuned for a special edition of AP next month focusing on this exciting new career path in aged care.