Alberta aims to reduce anti-psychotic drug use in long-term care

Alberta health officials hope to cut down on anti-psychotic drugs used in long-term care.

Pilot project cut anti-psychotic drug use in half

Dallas Diamond's 85-year-old mother Margaret was put on an anti-psychotic drug while living at a Calgary care facility. (Dallas Diamond)

Alberta health officials hope to cut down on anti-psychotic drugs used in long-term care.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health information, 25 per cent of residents in Alberta facilities are on these drugs without a diagnosis of psychosis. They are often used on dementia patients as a form of chemical restraint.

Dallas Diamond's 85-year-old mother was put on an anti-psychotic drug while living at a Calgary care facility. She has an advanced form of dementia.

"My mother didn't even know she was being given it. They use it as a form of chemical restraint to keep them in their rooms," said Diamond.

Alberta Health Services conducted a pilot project last year targeting 11 homes with the highest rates of anti-psychotic use.

Dr. Verna Yiu, the province's chief medical officer, said monthly medication reviews were conducted and the results were dramatic. In one facility, the number of patients on the medications were cut from 66 to five. Overall the rate of anti-psychotic drug use was cut in half.

"We've heard very touching stories from family members where they almost looked like they woke up again, able to do things they weren't able to do again, enjoy life," she said.

“It's very important to make sure that when you do use it, that you use it for the right reason."

Health officials hope to expand the program to all of Alberta's long-term care homes next year.


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