Researchers tackle one of the nation’s biggest health challenges

Researchers from the Kolling Institute will support an important, Australia-wide project to address the inappropriate use of medications in residential aged care.

The initiative, to be co-ordinated by Monash University’s Centre for Medicine Use and Safety, has been awarded $2 million through the Medical Research Future Fund.

It will see pharmacists embedded in residential aged care facilities, so they can implement evidence-based recommendations to improve the use of psychotropic medications in people living with dementia and in aged care.

Australian research suggests more than 60 per cent of residents use psychotropic medications, like antidepressants on a regular basis, and more than 90 per cent of residents experience one or more medication-related problems.

Project lead Professor Simon Bell said rates of psychotropic medication use remain high, despite an overall lack of evidence for benefits and well-established risks.

“New models of evidence-translation are needed to ensure safe and effective medication management,” he said.

“Through this project, pharmacists will work in close partnership with nurses, GPs, residents and their families to provide training in managing changed behaviours and to coordinate education using evidence-based resources.”

Kolling researcher Professor Sarah Hilmer, a leading geriatrician and clinical pharmacologist has welcomed the opportunity to be part of the research team.

“Importantly, this project will help implement best practice for the vulnerable people living in aged care. It’s exciting to work with this multidisciplinary team to improve care in this complex environment,” she said.

The project will involve the New South Wales Therapeutic Advisory Group, which is chaired by Professor Hilmer. The group will lead the development of quality use of medicines indicators for antipsychotics, benzodiazapines and antidepressants.

The four-year program will be conducted in partnership with the University of Queensland, Flinders University, University of Sydney and five aged care providers in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.