Monash awarded $1.5 million to investigate role for embedded pharmacists in aged care medication advisory committees

Dr Amanda Cross and Professor Simon Bell

Dr Amanda Cross and Professor Simon Bell.

The Commonwealth Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) recently invested $1.5 million into investigating how pharmacists can work with other health professionals to implement the new Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care Guiding Principles for Medication Management in Residential Aged Care Facilities.

The project, which is being led by the Centre for Medicine Use and Safety (CMUS) based at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, is called Maximising Embedded Pharmacists in aGed cAre Medication Advisory Committees (MEGA-MAC). It will involve pharmacists working as system level knowledge brokers to optimise the structure and function of local medication advisory committees (MACs), and implementation of an innovative national quality improvement collaborative.

Project Lead and CMUS Director Professor Simon Bell said the MEGA-MAC will act as a real-time clinical network to support embedded pharmacists and local medication advisory committees to deliver, monitor and evaluate quality improvement initiatives.

“Our project will support residential aged care facilities to implement the guiding principles and provide a framework for embedded pharmacists to share best practice and strategies between medication advisory committees across Australia,” said Professor Bell.

Clinical practice guidelines and guiding principles assist health professionals to deliver consistent high quality evidence based care; however, translating guidelines into clinical practice is a challenging process. Knowledge brokers are individuals or groups that facilitate implementation of new knowledge, evidence and guidelines into practice.

Project Chief Investigator Dr Amanda Cross said: “Knowledge brokers are an emerging knowledge translation strategy and act as knowledge managers, linkage agents and capacity builders. Our project will empower embedded pharmacists and representatives from medication advisory committees to act as knowledge brokers to drive the implementation of the new Guiding Principles into practice.”

This project directly addresses key priority areas for residential aged care highlighted by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care relating to Medication Advisory Committees, implementing quality improvement indicators and evaluating the impact of embedded pharmacists.

Joanne Money, Director of Aged Care Services at one of the three partner aged care provider organisations, Grampians Health said, “Grampians Health is committed to ensuring safe and effective medication use in our residential care communities and values the opportunity to partner with Monash University on this project to further strengthen our medication management systems to provide greater benefit to residents and their carers.”

This three-year project will be conducted in partnership with University of Sydney, Flinders University, New South Wales Therapeutic Advisory Group (NSW TAG) and three aged care provider organisations across Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.