University of Tasmania alumna Maria Berbecaru’s (pictured) work in clinical pharmacy practice in aged care has been recognised with a national award.
The Hobart-based pharmacist has picked up the PSA Symbion Early Career Pharmacist of the Year award, presented by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA).
Maria is an accredited pharmacist and a young pioneer of clinical pharmacy practice in aged care, having implemented the first integrated community pharmacy delivered medicines supply and embedded residential clinical pharmacist service in an Australian aged care facility.
Maria has taken responsibility for medicine safety and use at the aged care facility.
She is responsible for coordinating quarterly psychotropic medicines reviews, swallowing assessments for medication administration, and has developed gold-standard collaborative arrangements with general practitioners, including participation on rounds.
“Our vulnerable, older population in residential aged care facilities are at significantly higher risk of medication-related harm compared to other members of our society. Residential aged care facility residents are commonly on many medications, have multiple comorbid conditions, are frailer and generally do not have any face-to-face interactions with pharmacists on a regular basis," Maria said.
“I believe with the right support, guidance and a sustainable funding model in place, embedded residential clinical pharmacists will become the norm who will be pivotal members of the healthcare team to promote safe prescribing, safe administration and usage of medicines – ultimately minimising the risk of any medication-related harm and improving the quality of care for the residents.
“As my very first nomination as a professional, I feel extremely honored and fortunate to be chosen as the winner among a group of such highly talented individuals. This recognition is motivating and a reminder that the work I undertake daily matters to residents, our profession and the health system.
“My goal is to promote and elevate the embedded pharmacists in aged care model alongside inspiring other pharmacists to become involved in this area of practice. Additionally, to assist with solidifying a sustainable funding model so that this unique role becomes widely adopted across other residential aged care facilities in Australia.”
PSA National President, Associate Professor Chris Freeman commended Maria on her achievement and acknowledged the importance of pharmacists in aged care.
“On the back of the Royal Commission into Aged Care, it is clear that pharmacists have a critical role in improving the safe and effective medication use,” he said.
“Maria is clearly committed to leading this area of practice and it is great to see a model connected with community pharmacy and general practitioners.
“Maria has established a model and measurement tools to clearly show the benefits to aged care staff, to residents, to medical practitioners and to the community pharmacy in having an on-site resident clinical pharmacist. “