A five-year data-driven national project targeting the overuse of antipsychotic and antibiotic medication in aged care has secured almost $2 million in national and provider funding.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt announced 292 National Health and Medical Research Council grants this week worth $471 million in total.

It includes $1.4 million awarded to Macquarie University to establish a national roundtable of Australia’s leading experts on improving the safety and quality of aged care to co-design innovative and practical technology-based solutions to improve medication management.

The project has received an additional $375,000 from New South Wales and ACT aged care provider research partners BaptistCare, Scalabrini and Anglicare.

The roundtable, which includes 10 chief investigators from seven intuitions across five states, will initially focus on the high priority areas of antibiotic and antipsychotic medication use.

The project will take a data-driven approach to improve medication safety in aged care, said project lead Professor Johanna Westbrook, director of the Australian Institute of Health Innovation (AIHI) at Macquarie University.

“The roundtable will develop a central repository of the different aged care providers’ medication data and we’re going to use that data to discuss what is happening with medication and a range of medication indicators.

“[The project will also] look at where we might be able to target particular interventions which are low cost and are built into the electronic systems so that they are sustainable,” Professor Westbrook told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Professor Johanna Westbrook

“One of the things that’s a real strength of looking at medical electronic medication administration data for any psychotic medications, for example, is we can look at the proportion of residents that are taking these medications, when they started these medications and how long they’ve been on the medications,” she said.

The roundtable will advance Macquarie University and Professor Westbrook’s work showing how electronic health record systems in aged care can improve medication use in aged care, where 80 per cent of residents are on five or more medications a day and 40 per cent are on 10 or more.

That includes a study examining the use of antibiotics in aged care facilities internationally led by Dr Magda Raban, who is a senior research fellow at AIHI and one of the 10 chief investigators in this latest project.

BaptistCare, Scalabrini and Anglicare will provide medication data for the project, Professor Westbrook said.

“They will be working together in this process to implement different interventions to review the data to share their experiences and this will be the foundation,” she said.

“Overtime, we hope that other providers will join us and benefit from the outcomes of this research.”

Professor Westbrook said she hoped the project provided meaningful data to providers, residents and policymakers to present measurable improvements in medication management and improve residents’ quality of life.

The project, A National Aged Care Medication Roundtable – Translating aged care data into action to improve quality of care through collaboration and co-design, commences in November.

Improving access to aged care, palliative care

Elsewhere, the National Ageing Research Institute picked up two grants from the NHMRC worth $1.7 million to develop a culturally-appropriate decision tool and improve telehealth palliative care services.

It includes also almost $1.1 million for a project that aims to improve the quality of palliative care in residential aged care using telehealth.

The Improving Palliative care in Residential aged care using Telehealth project (IMPART) is part of the Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration and led by Professor Kwang Lim.

“Through the IMPART program, we provide training and palliative-geriatric support to aged care staff and GPs to enable timely end-of-life discussions, improve documentation of care preferences, reduce avoidable hospitalisation and improve residents’ quality of care at the end of life,” Professor Lim said.

NARI social gerontology research fellow Dr Josefine Antoniades received a $650,000 grant to co-design a culturally-appropriate decision aid to help South Asian people and their families plan, navigate and evaluate aged care services against their needs.

The CultureCare project could also potentially help people from other culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds make informed decisions about aged care in the future, Dr Antonaides said.

“Providing greater resources and support to CALD communities is critical to ensuring everyone in Australia is able to access the care they need as they age,” Dr Antoniades said.

Other aged care grants

  • $1.5 million to Queensland University of Technology to transform how palliative care services are delivered to older people
  • $650,000 to Monash University to address key steps in the medication-management cycle to reduce medication-related harm
  • $650,000 to Macquarie University to identify how the culture of residential aged care facilities affects the safety and quality of care provided to residents and put into action strategies to improve culture and residents’ outcome
  • $955,000 to University of New South Wales to increase proactive care planning in Australian community aged care settings.

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