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The Yukon health department says the quality of life for some residents with dementia at Copper Ridge Place is greatly improved because of a reduction in antipsychotic drug use. (CBC)


The Yukon health department says it's seeing amazing results from a pilot project meant to reduce the amount of antipsychotic drugs given to residents with dementia at a continuing care facility in Whitehorse.

Spokesperson Pat Living says the program at Copper Ridge Place began six months ago with financial support from the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement.

Living says the program focuses on one-on-one care aimed at de-escalating behavior by residents that can lead to the use of antipsychotic medication.

"It's just a way of rethinking how you do things, rather than reaching for the medication bottle the first time something happens, what are some of the tools that you can use to avert that," she says.

"I mean, is it something, is it trying to engage someone, is it trying to get them to sing, is it trying to talk to them about their favourite things," Living says.

The health department says the use of antipsychotic drugs in the special care unit has been reduced for more than half of the residents and discontinued completely for some.

Living says antipsychotic medication can completely change people's personalities and behaviour.

She says one resident is now participating in conversations and activities again. His son has told staff it's comforting for the family to see the improvement.

"The difference in the man between this year and and last year," Living says.

"And how his dad is much more well adjusted and is comfortable in his environment, and the son and the daughter have noted an increased ability to interact with family members, visitors ... And so for his dad, he's getting a much better quality of life," Living says.

Mike Nixon, the Yukon's Minister of Health and Social Services, says the program will now begin in the territory's other continuing care facilities. Those are the Thomson Centre and Macaulay Lodge in Whitehorse and McDonald Lodge in Dawson City.