The over-reliance on medicines including antipsychotics and benzodiazepines in the management of dementia has been one of the areas of focus of the current Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. A new national educational program by NPS MedicineWise, Dementia and changed behaviours: a person-centred approach, will support health professionals and consumers in caring for people with dementia who experience changed behaviours in both aged care and community settings.
NPS MedicineWise medical adviser and GP Dr Anna Samecki says the program’s main focus is on the importance of person-centred care.
“Given that up to 90% of people with dementia will experience changed behaviours such as aggression or agitation at some point during the course of their illness, a collaborative multidisciplinary team approach that encourages the involvement of the person with dementia and their family is key to personalising and tailoring management,” she says.
Through the new program, NPS MedicineWise aims to increase health professional and carers’ knowledge of first line non-pharmacological approaches, which don’t necessarily need to be formal or costly and can be tailored to meet the needs of the person with dementia. The program will highlight the resources available to help identify triggers for changed behaviours and in turn inform best management.
“Antipsychotics and benzodiazepines have a limited role and they should not be used first line. If they are needed, the program highlights the importance of collaboration between the person or carer and the healthcare team in management decisions which includes obtaining informed consent. These medicines should be used at the lowest possible dose, with a plan in place to review, wean and stop,” says Dr Samecki.
The program has been developed in consultation with key stakeholders including Dementia Support Australia, Dementia Training Australia, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, the Aged Care Division of the Australian Government Department of Health and the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN). Audiences for the program include GPs, pharmacists and nurses who care for older people with dementia, both in the community and residential aged care facilities, as well as people with dementia and their carers.
Key elements of the NPS MedicineWise program:
For more information on the new Dementia and changed behaviour: a person-centred approach program go to www.nps.org.au/professionals/antipsychotic-medicines