What is a Senior Care Pharmacist?

A senior care pharmacist is a pharmacist who provides expert advice on the use of medications to individuals and older adults, wherever they live.

Senior care pharmacists are committed to providing person-centered care, taking into account the complex interrelationships between disease states, nutrition, medications, and other variables. They are essential clinicians on the health care team, and influential decision-makers in all aspects of medication therapy.

Senior care pharmacists counsel patients, provide information and recommendations to prescribers and caregivers, review patients’ medication regimens, present in-service educational programs, and oversee medication distribution services. While a senior care pharmacist may provide this type of clinical expertise to any age group, senior care pharmacists focus on the special pharmacotherapeutic challenges of the senior citizen.

ASCP Membership Practice Settings

  • Senior care pharmacists have specialized knowledge in geriatrics, geriatric pharmacotherapy, and the unique medication-related needs of the senior population, which they apply in the provision of pharmaceutical care.
  • Senior care pharmacy practice is unique in that it is population rather than site specific. Senior care pharmacists practice geriatric pharmacotherapy in all settings.
  • In providing person-centered care, senior care pharmacists look at their patients holistically -- as individuals for whom quality of life and quality of care are mutually significant and necessary.
  • Senior care pharmacists reduce medication-related problems and improve therapeutic outcomes.
  • Through care medication regimen review, these pharmacists minimize the health risks of seniors taking medications that could be inappropriate and recommend more appropriate choices, including discontinuation of unnecessary medications.
  • Untreated or undertreated health concerns are identified and treatment recommendations are made, taking into account potential side effects and drug/food/disease interactions.
  • The entire medication regimen, including those taken “prn” is carefully reviewed, including prescription, OTC, dietary supplements, and herbal products to determine whether the product is necessary, dosed correctly, safe for the patient, and affordable.
  • The senior care pharmacist both educates others in the clinical team as to medication management, and takes continuing education courses in this area to further self-development.
  • Senior care pharmacists participate in facility quality assurance programs, conduct clinician-training sessions, and ensure appropriate clinical practice guidelines are met and followed by the facility.

Senior Care pharmacists practice in a wide variety of settings including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Adult day centers
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Community pharmacies
  • Hospice programs
  • Home care
  • Hospitals
  • Independent practice
  • Mental health facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Post-acute care
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Sub-acute care

Senior care pharmacists are involved in many different aspects of health care delivery:

  • Medication therapy management (MTM)
  • Medication regimen review (MRR)
  • Chronic disease state management
  • Patient and caregiver counseling
  • Therapeutic drug monitoring
  • Fall prevention
  • Formulary management
  • Provider in-services
  • Antimicrobial stewardship
  • Quality assurance measures
  • Medication use evaluations
  • Immunizations

George F. Archambault, often referred to as the founding father of this unique and exciting clinical work, coined the phrase "consultant pharmacist." The name originated in the nursing home environment when a group of innovative pharmacists focused on improving patient outcomes through judicious use of medications in these long-term care facilities.

"Consultant pharmacists" -- commonly referred to as "senior care pharmacists" -- now practice in a wide variety of other settings, including sub-acute and post-acute care, assisted living facilities, psychiatric hospitals, hospice programs, correctional facilities, and in home and community-based care -- wherever seniors reside. Senior care pharmacists share a common commitment to enhance the quality of care for all older persons through person-centered care, including medication use and promotion of healthy aging.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) defines consultant pharmacist as those pharmacists involved in skilled nursing facility operations and clinical care of residents. They help development of policies and procedures for medication administration and disposal; perform in-service training activities for facility staff related to medication administration and other aspects of medication therapy, round with physicians to examine patients and make recommendations for changes to medication regimens; educate family members, residents, and ombudsmen regarding medication therapy and policies and procedures within the facility; and assist the facility with compliance with laws and regulations, such as OSHA standards for hazardous chemicals.

Federal law requires the facility to “act upon” any recommendation made by a consultant pharmacist, including recommendations based on formulary considerations. Click her to view CMS's Review of Current Standards of Practice for Long-Term Care Pharmacist Services

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