Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) CEO Sean Rooney said inappropriate or unsafe medication of older people (Aged-care homes’ drug use slammed as ‘elder abuse’ – The Australian) in residential care is a quality of care issue and one that all Australians would be rightly concerned about.

“Appropriate medication is a key element of aged care standards and is reviewed as part of accreditation reviews,” Mr Rooney said.

“Along with our Members, we support a multi-disciplined approach to ensuring there is safe and appropriate medication management within residential aged care, with any use of medications also meeting community expectations about the rights of older people.”

Mr Rooney said medication is an important component of care both for clinical conditions and due to other conditions such as dementia and mental illness.

“Older people with dementia and mental illness can have challenging behaviours that may put themselves or others at risk,” Mr Rooney said.

“GPs prescribing medications must ensure that these are appropriate and safe and need to consult care plans, the patient and family, as appropriate, when making prescribing decisions.”

Mr Rooney said vigilance is required to ensure appropriate and safe outcomes for people in residential aged care with these challenging behaviours.

“Appropriate use of drugs must continue to be a focus of the quality and accreditation system, with continuous improvement.”

The new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission which commences on 1 January 2019 and the new quality standards commencing on 1 July 2019 will cover medication and chemical restraint issues, including given the Carnell Paterson recommendations on restraints. The new Aged Care Quality Standards will be person-centered, focusing more on outcomes for residents rather than provider processes. This offers scope for clinical review of these issues and continuous improvement.

A new ‘serious incident reporting scheme’ as proposed by Carnell-Paterson, as well as the Australian Law Reform Commission, will also be introduced.

The Carnell-Paterson Review was commissioned after failures of care, including improper use of chemical and physical restraints were identified at the Mack and McLeay wards in South Australia’s Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service.

This Review envisaged that the Aged Care Commission would oversee guideline implementations and lead the development of decision-making tools to support the limited, appropriate use of restrictive practices.

Mr Rooney said we welcome reforms that will make our industry safer, we all want safe and high quality aged care. Our older Australians need and deserve it.