When Prahran resident Mark Scott’s mother was hospitalised last year, the medication support they received from a community pharmacist on her return home provided peace of mind during a difficult year.
Mark’s mother, 85, was receiving daily visits from Bolton Clarke’s home nursing team, which recommended her for support from a pharmacist through the Timely Enhanced Access to Medication Management (TEAMM) Pharmacist initiative funded by Eastern Melbourne PHN (EMPHN).
The TEAMM initiative works with a patient’s GP, home nurses and pharmacist and aims to reduce the incidence of medication related problems that patients may experience.
Problems with medications can arise due to uncertainty about what is currently being taken, confusion about changes to current medications, or potential interactions and side-effects when a high number of drugs are prescribed.
Bolton Clarke research fellow, Cikie Lee, said medication errors occur in up to 40 per cent of older people referred for home nursing support.
“Around 13 per cent experience an adverse medication event requiring hospitalisation or medical consultation,” she said.
EMPHN CEO, Robin Whyte, said older people are at greater risk of experiencing medication errors and adverse medication events due to experiencing multiple health conditions, multiple prescribers and multiple medications.
“The risk is higher in older people with complex health issues that are unable to manage their medicines independently due to a decline in health and/or cognitive function, or the complexity of the medication regimens prescribed after hospital discharge,” she said.
Mark’s mother was taking a number of medications for diabetes, blood pressure, thyroid, cholesterol, peripheral neuropathy, arthritis, heart and bowel issues among others.
“After she had a stint in hospital early in the year we were advised to get a home nursing service,” Mark said.
“The Bolton Clarke nurses were great, they initially helped manage the medication by bringing a locked box where it could be kept safely for the nurses to access, and we had that in place for several months.
“Then a clinical pharmacist from Bolton Clarke called and introduced herself and asked if we wanted her to review Mum’s medications.
“We had a long talk about Mum’s medication management and she said she could see some obvious changes that we could make.
“Mum had quite a long list of more than 10 medications that had to be taken at four different times during the day, so it could be confusing.
“I wasn’t sure she was taking them properly. After the review we were able to reduce that to three times a day, which was easier for Mum to manage.
“She also had three hospital visits throughout the year and every time we went to hospital the medications changed.
“Robyn, the Bolton Clarke Clinical pharmacist, gave me so much of her time – it made me feel there was extra support there,” he said.
About the TEAMM Pharmacist initiative
The TEAMM Pharmacist initiative targets people aged 50-plus who have been referred to Bolton Clarke for medication management support and are identified at risk of experiencing medication problems and errors. This includes problems related to treatment complexity, changes in medications, uncertainty as to what is currently being taken, potential interactions and side-effects.
The initiative started on 3 July 2017 and will run until 30 June 2018 and is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Primary Health Network (PHN) program through Eastern Melbourne PHN (EMPHN). More than 100 clients have received the TEAMM Pharmacist initiative over the past six months.
Eastern Melbourne PHN is a not-for-profit Primary Health Network funded by the Australian Government to purchase health services to fill gaps in its local community. Eastern Melbourne PHN works closely with health professionals, consumers and carers to scope the gaps and identify emerging community needs and invests in a range of initiatives in areas including mental health, chronic disease, after-hours healthcare, and alcohol and other drugs. www.emphn.org.au