Home | Industry & Reform | On-site pharmacy for residential aged care from July 1

On-site pharmacy for residential aged care from July 1

From July 1 federal government funding will be made available for residential aged care providers to engage the services of pharmacists on-site, either through their local pharmacy or direct employment.

Originally scheduled to start on 1 January 2023, the Aged Care On-site Pharmacist (ACOP) Measure will provide reimbursement for pharmacist salaries when they engage in on-site employment with a residential aged care provider.

The ACOP Measure is in response to a number of recommendations listed in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, including the employment of allied health care professionals, more frequent medication management reviews, and the regulation of antipsychotic drugs.

A spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said they are very supportive of the use of community pharmacies to provide a higher level of support to older Australians.

"It's an opportunity for [aged care] facilities to review the role of the pharmacy as a service provider. Not just providing the medications and dose administration aids, but also things like quality use of medicines within the facility and being the lead in that area," the spokesperson said.

The Albanese Government is investing in delivering better health care outcomes for older Australians, "by knitting together parts of the health system that have too often lacked integration and ensuring better connections from residential aged care into public hospitals and primary care settings, like general practice or community pharmacy."

The 2021 Royal Commission report emphasised the need for more allied health professionals, including pharmacists, to downsize medication-related harm into aged care. 

It has been shown that the employment of on-site pharmacists can significantly reduce medicine harm in aged care.

"There are other services that pharmacists can provide, vaccinations and other things that will increase as pharmacists begin to practise to full scope," the Pharmacy Guild spokesperson said.

"There will be further opportunities for the community pharmacy to become a greater provider of pharmacy and healthcare services to the facilities in general."

The ACOP Measure funding model is split into two tiers:

  • Tier 1: a community pharmacy receiving payments to engage in a particular residential aged care facility. Participating pharmacies can claim from July 1.
  • Tier 2: a residential aged care facility can claim up to $138,282 per year for full-time equivalent employment of an on-site pharmacist. Facilities may begin providing employment from July 1, however reimbursement is expected to be delayed until October 1, when the payment administration system is expected to be established.

ACOP has outlined its goals for the program, which include improved medication safety and management, making it easier for aged care staff to obtain pharmacist advice, an increased understanding of individual needs within a facility and an integrated health care team that is to include GPs and nurses.

For more information on eligibility or to submit a claim, visit the Pharmacy Programs Administrator website.

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