Totally in the dark on understanding medicines use in disability care

medicine supply

Media Release

There is a complete lack of data and clear understanding of medicine use in disability care, which is inhibiting our ability to drive improvements and safety.

This must be addressed as a priority to ensure similar trends seen in aged care do not occur, particularly with the inappropriate use of psychotropic medicines.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s (PSA) submission to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability highlights this issue and other challenges faced by pharmacists in delivering services that ensure the safe and appropriate supply of prescribed and over-the-counter medicines.

PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman says, being well aware of the extent of inappropriate psychotropic medicine use in aged care, PSA has grave concerns that similar trends could be occurring in the disability sector.

“It would be a travesty if standards of care around medication management in the disability care sector was also found to be wanting.

“Inappropriately sedating people with disabilities is not care, it’s an abrogation of responsibility.

“There is a critical lack of information on medicines use by people with disability and at the moment pharmacists are in handcuffs when it comes to providing essential medication management support and services to people with disability.

 “Without appropriate data it is not possible to help optimise pharmacological interventions for people with disability, nor improve their quality of life.

“Medicine-related data collection with appropriate privacy and data security arrangements is critical to enable co-design and development of robust policies for the disability care sector and to implement best practice medication management for people with disability,” says A/Prof Freeman.

Other recommendations highlighted in the submission call on Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to raise awareness and promote the role of pharmacists to the disability care sector, explore mechanisms for disability care recipients to regularly access pharmacist-delivered services and to explore options for pharmacists to deliver education and training to disability support workers.

PSA also recommends that medication management frameworks and models of care developed by Government should integrate the role of pharmacists as well as provide funding for pharmacists to deliver quality use of medicines services to support disability service providers.

A/Prof Freeman says pharmacists as medicines experts were the most accessible health practitioners providing essential patient-centred health care services in a professional, ethical and compassionate manner.

“Many people with cognitive disability rely on medicines and PSA strongly recommends urgent consideration of mechanisms and arrangements to include pharmacists within the healthcare team to support everyone with disability, if support with their medicines is needed,” he says.

“Despite many established and funded medication management programs, it is disappointing that there does not appear to be a clear pathway for people with disability to access these in a considered and structured manner.

“PSA urges the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to be more strategic and proactive in enabling partnerships between disability service providers and the pharmacy profession.”

Read the submission:

Text by: Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA)