Long-Term Care Makes Positive Impact for Older Individuals

Ronna Hauser, PharmD, Senior Vice President of Policy and Pharmacy Affairs at the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), and Bri Morris, PharmD, Senior Director of Education and the Long-Term Care Division at NCPA, discuss long-term care facilities and how they can make an impact on that patient population.

Q: What is NCPA’s Senior Care Summit?

Ronna Hauser: NCPS’s Senior Care Summit is an exciting track of programming, focused on NCPA’s Long-Term Care Division. NCPA’s, Long-Term Care Division is a strong group of independent pharmacies who provide long-term care services to patients in need in their communities, and we tailor educational programming to their needs. This year, we have several different offerings for our Long-Term Care Division members. One session in the Summit focuses on the good, the bad, and the ugly of long-term care. So what’s to come in the months and years ahead that our long-term care pharmacists should be aware of.

We do have a session that focuses on medical at home pharmacy services, the players, the payers, the game, so we’re going to delve into how these services are currently being provided. Then also future opportunities and how to get paid for medical at home pharmacy services. Then as part of our Summit, we also have a special session, that’s an idea exchange for long-term care pharmacist to participate in and do a lot of great networking with their peers.

Q: How can pharmacists overcome staffing challenges in long term care facilities?

Ronna Hauser: As we all know, the pandemic has really had an impact on everyone in our country, but especially long-term care facilities have been hit extra hard with the effects of the pandemic. Our members have been able to really rally and help out long-term care facilities in this time of need. They have provided immunizations to residents in the facilities. They provided extra care going above and beyond to try to help out with some of the staffing shortages that are seen at the facilities. Ways they can do that, again, is to obviously provide the specialized packaging, obviously have their consultant pharmacists play a greater role in caring for the patients at the facilities. And again, as I mentioned, just in general taking care of immunization needs across the board that used to maybe have been provided by different provider for the facilities. Again, we think that there’s long-term opportunities for our members to continue to provide services such as immunizations in their facilities in the future.

Q: What are some challenges in management of this patient population?

Ronna Hauser: This patient population, again, has been overwhelmingly impacted by the pandemic. We’ve seen things change. We’ve seen over the pandemic patients that would normally go into an assisted living or a skilled nursing facility. We’ve seen them wish to stay at home and age in place at home. So that is again, one of the top advocacy priorities for NCPA’s Long-Term Care Division is to get our members paid for providing long-term care services to patients who choose to age in their homes that would otherwise need to be in a facility setting.

We feel that the pandemic has, just in one way, offered more opportunities for patients who prefer to age at home, offer more opportunities for our members to be able to provide that higher level of service and that higher level of long-term care pharmacy suite of offerings to patients in their home environment.

Q: What is the impact of social determinants of health on senior care?

Bri Morris: Absolutely, so Ronna talked a little bit about medical home, and how important it is, and how so many seniors want to age in place. Well, with social determinants of health, that’s where you live, work, play, all of those certain things. So medical at home is addressing all of those social determinants of health through medication management and delivery, and we’re actually meeting those needs so the senior care population may not have to go into a nursing facility, and they can stay in the familiarity of their own homes.
Q: How can pharmacists make a positive impact for this patient population?

Ronna Hauser: Pharmacist, again, are pillars in the community. They know folks in their communities. They live and reside in the same communities as the facilities. They get to know the staff at these facilities, and they provide a higher level of care than some of the national chains providing long-term care services can provide. We’ve seen increased opportunities for our members in long-term care during the pandemic. We expect to see that far beyond the pandemic, and again, it gets down to a local level of enhanced care that our members provide to patients in these settings. We foresee many opportunities for our members to expand their offerings to patients residing in skilled and assisted living facilities. Then we also see a lot of opportunities to provide the same suite of services to patients residing at home.

Q: Anything you would like to add?

Ronna Hauser: I would just like to add that I hope that all the attendees have in NCPA’s Annual Convention, that are interested in or currently provide long-term care pharmacy services, learn more about NCPA’s Long-Term Care Division. We have an active membership. We have opportunities for different steering and advisory committees that guide our work in long-term care. We hope we get more and more NCPA members engaged in the long-term care efforts.

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