Aged Care Onsite Pharmacists are coming!

With government funding commencing on 1 July, here is everything you need to know about the initiative.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety identified medication management in residential aged care homes as an essential area for improvement. The Aged Care Onsite Pharmacist (ACOP) initiative reflects a $333.7 million investment and after several delays the program will commence on 1 July 2024.

How it works

Participation: It is not mandatory for a facility to participate in the ACOP program. Where engaged, the ACOP program will replace the QUM and RMMR service. Workforce availability (systemic pharmacist shortages) will be the main barrier to program uptake and service quality assurance.    

Funding: A full-time equivalent onsite pharmacist will be funded to service 250 residential beds. Funding is blocked into 50 bed increments, providing 1 full-day or 2 half-days onsite per 50 beds. The Commonwealth will fund the ACOPs’ annual salary and from 1 July community pharmacies can access funding to employ a credentialed pharmacist to be embedded in a facility. Any Section 90 PBS approved community pharmacy can embed a pharmacist into a facility, including a pharmacy that does not supply medications to that facility.

Training: The only training to have so far been granted accreditation from the Australian Pharmacy Council to deliver the combined ACOP/MMR credentialing is the Pharmacy Care Academy’s credentialing program. The Academy is owned by a credentialed pharmacist who has designed the course with a focus on ensuring ACOPs are adequately skilled to service the complex clinical needs of residents and within the care setting’s complicated regulatory environment. 

The Academy is aiming to upskill more than 400 credentialed ACOP/MMR pharmacists in time for the 1 July funding and service commencement.

Key onsite roles: The department has been consistent in clarifying that the ACOP’s role must be clinical in nature, and the program does not provide funding for medication supply or related activities, such as Dose Administration Aid packing or deliveries to the facility). Permitted ACOP pharmacist duties include conducting RMMRs, attending MACs, delivering education to staff and counselling to residents/family, medication management QI reporting, staff and resident vaccinations, and various roles related to medication safety stewardship, especially related to psychotropic medications and transition of care events.

The program presents unintended regulatory and quality risks:

  • Fragmentation of aged care pharmacist support is expected and at odds with the sector’s increasing need for a whole-of-organisation approach to clinical governance and medication management.
  • Critical independence in QUM and RMMR service delivery is lost if the ACOP is engaged by a supply pharmacy.
  • Consumer choice is compromised if the onsite pharmacist is employed by that resident’s preferred pharmacy’s competitor.
  • The ACOP model reflects a boom-bust medication management cycle with a typical 85-bed facility receiving intense support for 2 days per week, whilst losing the 7-day support that is currently provided by the QUM Service. 
  • The department has indicated that untrained ACOPs will be permitted to be funded to conduct onsite duties without the mandatory Australian Pharmacy Council credentialing until 30 June 2025. This unusual transitional arrangement is incongruent with care providers’ workforce obligations under current and future Aged Care Act and Aged Care Quality Standards. 

Credentialed Pharmacist Solutions 

Embedding Safe and Quality Use of Medicines:

  • Credentialed Pharmacist Solutions (CPS) is a community pharmacy and Australia’s leading provider of Aged Care Onsite Pharmacist services.
  • CPS’s onsite pharmacist service works closely with (though is independent of) the facility’s pharmaceutical supply function, supporting ACOP service compliance, quality assurance and consumer choice.
  • CPS’s sole proprietor is also the owner the Pharmacy Care Academy and Choice Aged Care (Australia’s largest provider of the QUM and RMMR services). CPS onsite pharmacists reflect the sector’s best equipped (e.g. MediBUDDY® software solution) and most highly trained and industry prepared ACOPs.
  • Facility level ACOP services and reporting are streamlined to a whole-of-organisation clinical governance framework. 
  • CPS provides ongoing continuity of medication management support to the facility on the days that the ACOP is not rostered onsite.

Interested in having an onsite pharmacist embedded at your facility on July 1st? 

Contact Credentialed Pharmacist Solutions to embed safe and quality use of medicines.

P:  1300 275 908