Care-home meds concern

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has welcomed the announcement of a royal commission into aged-care quality and safety.

The organisation says it is especially concerned about medication in care homes following the exposure of cases of neglect, elder abuse and other concerns.

“Inappropriate use of medication in aged care has been a concern for many years,” PSA National President Dr Shane Jackson said.

“We’ve seen reports that indicate over 50 per cent of residents in some aged-care facilities are receiving sedative-type medications, have suboptimal pain control, and are taking medications that are no longer necessary. Crushing of medications puts residents at greater risk of side effects, including falls.”

The ABC’s Four Corners program has screened the first part of a two-part investigation into the treatment of older Australians in aged-care homes, including examples of inappropriate use of medicines.

“These reports are particularly distressing to our members,” Dr Jackson said. “Pharmacists are a key group of health professionals who understand how much medicine safety and quality directly affects the health and wellbeing of vulnerable residents in aged-care facilities, both negatively and positively.

“Better coordination and greater investment in healthcare professionals like pharmacists needs to be built into the operation and design of aged-care facilities.

“Research shows positive health outcomes are delivered in models where pharmacists and pharmacy services are embedded and integrated within aged-care facilities. These pharmacists support doctors in making the right decisions about the use of medications, guide nurses in the correct administration of medications, and regularly review medications residents are taking.

“Unfortunately, what we see in practice is that all too often they are not there, and it is our aged-care residents who pay the price.”