Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Family Members - Critical Allies in Reducing Antipsychotic Use


Many long-term care residents with dementia who are on antipsychotic medications were first prescribed these drugs before ever coming through our doors. They may have first been placed on the medications while in a hospital stay, or while living in their own homes and being supported by family caregivers. Reducing the off-label use of these medications in our centers is an effort we have embraced across our field and we are seeing significant progress. But it’s not something that we can accomplish without engaging and garnering the support of many other stakeholders – our nursing staff, physicians, and our residents’ families chief among them.

If communicating effectively with families about the reasons to reduce the use of these drugs has been a challenge for your community, be sure to take a look at the AHCA consumer fact sheet, “Fast Facts: What You Need to Know About Antipsychotic Drugs for Persons Living with Dementia" in our Quality Initiative antipsychotic resource center. Available in both English and Spanish versions, the fact sheet provides background on the issue of antipsychotic medications in persons living with dementia and answers commonly asked questions among family members. It also encourages consumers to get involved with their loved one’s care by asking specific questions to caregivers.

Families, understandably, have lots of questions and want to be sure they are advocating for the best possible care for their loved ones. Making sure they understand the issues is the best way to help them work with us to make the best decisions. They can also be a tremendously powerful source of information for staff if we work to effectively engage them as partners in person-centered care.

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