Fifteen care groups across Canada are taking part in a project aimed at reducing the amount of antipsychotic drugs given inappropriately to people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The Royal Ottawa Health Care Group—a mental health care centre in Ontario—is among the organizations participating in the project. It will work with the Peter D. Clark Long Term Care Home, one of four long-term care facilities it manages.
The project will focus on 99 of the facilities’ 216 beds, with the hope of cutting down on antipsychotic drug use by residents.
Participating groups are based in Newfoundland, British Columbia and Yukon, among other places.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, there are 7,500 long-term care home residents living in the Ottawa region. Almost one-third of them are taking antipsychotic drugs, even though they have not been diagnosed with psychosis.
Antipsychotic medication is often given to those with Alzheimer’s and dementia in order to control their aggression or agitation.
The issue was first brought to public attention in this country, after the Canadian Institute for Health Information questioned whether the high use of antipsychotic medication in long-term care facilities was appropriate.
Previous studies have found that those with Alzheimer’s and dementia show little improvement after being put on antipsychotic drugs. The medications have also been shown to have serious side effects, including leading to premature death.
The Canadian Geriatrics Society has advocated for a limited use of antipsychotic drugs among people with AD and dementia, saying the drugs should only been given in cases where other interventions are unsuccessful, and where the patient is a threat to themselves or others.
Funding for the initiative is being provided by the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, a not-for-profit which receives money from the federal government, which is putting forth $750,000. The money will go towards adapting and putting into practice an approach used by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to cut antipsychotic drug use by 27 percent among a specific group of residents.