Send to

Choose Destination
Drugs Aging. 2004;21(12):813-24.

Factors influencing the implementation of quality use of medicines in residential aged care.

Author information

Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.



In response to concerns about, and issues pertaining to, medication use practices in residential aged-care facilities (RACFs), the Australian Pharmaceutical Advisory Council (APAC) established a working party on quality use of medicines (QUM) in nursing homes and hostels. The APAC is a representative ministerial advisory forum bringing together key stakeholders from the medical, nursing and pharmacy professions, as well as pharmaceutical industry, consumer and government sectors. The working party developed the integrated best practice model for medication management in RACFs.


This study arose from concerns that, despite the availability of such guidelines to inform best practice in RACFs, there remain barriers to its implementation. Thus, the focus of this research was to explore factors influencing the implementation of best practice with respect to QUM in RACFs.


This multimethod, multidisciplinary study was conducted in a representative sample of 12 RACFs in one Australian state - South Australia. The methods used were Critical Incident Technique (CIT) interviews, focus groups, nominal groups and Participatory Action Research.


In stage one of the research the CIT interviews identified four major issues/factors influencing the implementation of best practice: contextual/structural, boundaries, day-to-day practices and keeping up. These themes were developed in the focus and nominal group sessions and the project team prepared a discussion paper summarising stage one results. In stage two participants were asked to use the discussion paper to develop a way forward. Medication Advisory Committees (MACs) emerged as a key strategy. Each participating RACF was then supported to establish and maintain a MAC. A second workshop heard feedback from the facilities on factors supporting the MACs and barriers to their functioning. Eleven of the 12 RACFs had a functioning MAC at the end of the project. Key support factors included: an external facilitator to help organise MAC meetings, provision of resources, such as terms of reference, agendas, policy statements and the sharing of information between MACs. In stage three a set of agreed recommendations was prepared and submitted to the funding body. The recommendations reported here informed the development of the peak guidelines for medication management and administration in Australia.


This project has been groundbreaking in its impact on Australian aged-care practice. A major outcome has been significantly improved communication and collaboration between industry organisations, academic disciplines, professional bodies and educators involved in the RACFs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center