New collaborative program to improve medication safety in Melbourne’s east

28 July, 2017

Older people referred for home nursing support who are at risk of experiencing medication errors and adverse medication events will be helped through a new partnership between Eastern Melbourne PHN and RDNS.

The TEAMM-Pharmacist (Timely Enhanced Access to Medication Management) program aims to improve quality of care and medication safety for older home nursing clients referred for medication management, by providing timely access to a clinical pharmacist who will visit them in their home.

Medication errors occur in up to 40 percent of this client population. Around 13 percent experience an adverse medication event requiring hospitalisation or medical consultation.

EMPHN CEO Robin Whyte said older people are at risk of experiencing medication errors and adverse medication events due to having multiple health conditions, multiple prescribers, and multiple medications, and the risk is higher in older people with complex health issues requiring home nursing services.

“The TEAMM-Pharmacist program will integrate clinical pharmacist services within the eastern Melbourne RDNS team in order to streamline access to medication management expertise for clients assessed as being at higher risk of medication misadventure,” she said.

RDNS Institute research fellow Cikie Lee said more than 50 percent of RDNS home visits are to provide medication management support when people are unable to manage their medicines independently, due to a decline in health and/or cognitive function, or to receiving complex treatments during recovery after hospital discharge.

“The TEAMM program is based on a successful study conducted by our research team that piloted the addition of clinical pharmacists to the home nursing team, to improve interdisciplinary medication management and reduce risk of adverse medication events for frail, at risk older people with complex support needs,” she said.

“The pilot ‘Visiting Pharmacist for Older People Living in the Community (ViP)’ program, conducted in 2014-15, created positive outcomes and influenced changes in medication practice.”

The new program will involve two consultant clinical pharmacists working at the RDNS East Hub to provide medication management support for RDNS nurses, clients and carers, and co-ordinate with clients’ GPs, hospitals, community pharmacies, specialists and other healthcare providers. 

The pharmacists will accompany nurses on home visits with clients to review, reconcile and educate clients/carers on their medicines. They will work with RDNS nurses, GPs, practice nurses, community pharmacies and other providers to identify and resolve medication-related issues, and optimise medicines use and medication management for at-risk older people.

The TEAMM-Pharmacist program will target people aged 50-plus who have been referred to RDNS for medication management support and are identified at risk of experiencing medication problems. This will include problems related to treatment complexity, changes in medications, uncertainty as to what is currently being taken, potential interactions and side-effects.

The program started on 3 July 2017 and will run until 30 June 2018, and is supported by funding from the Commonwealth Government under the PHN Program.

Eastern Melbourne PHN works to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of medical services for people in the eastern and north-eastern areas of Melbourne, particularly those at risk of poor health outcomes, to improve coordination of care and ensure patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time. EMPHN works across an area of 3,956 km² comprising a population of more than 1.5 million people.

RSL Care + RDNS is Australia’s largest independent, not-for-profit provider of health and independent living services, including community home nursing. It provides care and home visits (2.7 million visits) to more than 100,000 Australians annually.