New NHMRC Partnership Project in Aged Care

New federal funding targets overuse of antipsychotics and antibiotics in aged care

The overuse of antibiotics and antipsychotic medication in residential aged care facilities will be addressed in a new national project to make care safer for residents.

Macquarie University has been awarded $1.4 million in National Health and Medical Research Council funding for ‘A National Aged Care Medication Roundtable – Translating aged care data into action to improve quality of care through collaboration and co-design’.

This highly collaborative project will devise innovative and practical IT based solutions to address poor medication management which was the topic of more than one third of issues reported to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and is the greatest source of complaint to the Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission.

The Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Greg Hunt, announced the Aged Care Medication Roundtable that will be boosted by an additional $375,000 from research partners BaptistCare, Scalabrini and Anglicare. The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care is also a partner.

Professor Johanna Westbrook from the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, will lead the Roundtable, designed to directly support national aged care policy and targets, Commonwealth national aged care quality indicators, along with recommendations from the Royal Commission.

Professor Westbrook, who was a key witness to the Royal Commission and quoted in the Final Report, provided research evidence that health record data from residential aged care facilities can be harnessed using IT to provide up to date and comprehensive monitoring of all medications administered to residents, thereby preventing harm through misuse. More than 80% of residents are on five or more medications daily, and 40% are on 10 or more.

The Roundtable will advance this foundational work, initially focusing on the high priority areas of antibiotic and antipsychotic medication use. Previous studies have shown that annually over 60% of aged care residents receive antibiotics, yet only 18% of prescriptions are consistent with guidelines. Further, around 25% of residents were shown to be sedated on antipsychotic medication and most for longer than the recommended time.

Professor Westbrook emphasised the important role of research partners, BaptistCare, Scalabrini and Anglicare, and their strong commitment to continually enhancing medication management in residential aged care facilities, with close involvement of residents and their families and carers.  The Roundtable is founded on an innovative approach to work in partnership across organisations and harness the power of information technology to improve medication quality and safety on a large-scale.

Chief investigators on the Aged Care Medication Roundtable are Australia’s leading experts on improving the safety and quality of aged care:

  • Professor Johanna Westbrook, Australian Institute of Health Innovation (AIHI), Macquarie University
  • Professor Len Gray, University of Queensland
  • Professor Tracey Bucknall, Deakin University
  • Professor Christopher Etherton-Beer, University of Western Australia
  • Professor Ben Newell, University of New South Wales
  • Dr Magda Raban, AIHI, Macquarie University
  • Associate Professor Gillian Caughey, University of South Australia
  • Professor Elizabeth Beattie, Queensland University of Technology
  • Professor Meredith Makeham, Macquarie University
  • Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite, AIHI, Macquarie University

Professor Johanna Westbrook is available for interview, please contact [email protected]

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