Nursing home resident advocates applaud CMS antipsychotic initiative

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Nursing home resident advocates applauded federal action on the issue of using antipsychotics to treat elderly nursing home residents with dementia.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services launched its  “National Initiative to Improve Behavioral Health & Reduce the Use of Antipsychotic Medications in Nursing Home Residents” on Thursday, a move hailed by aging services advocates. The initiative aims to raise awareness of antipsychotic misuse, improve regulatory oversight and train nursing home workers on non-drug treatments for aggressive and agitated dementia behaviors.

When prescribed inappropriately, resident advocates have argued, antipsychotics can increase the risk of death for nursing home residents with dementia. They say increased nursing home staffing levels and extra training, among other measures, can help curb the use of such drugs. Groups such as the American Health Care Association have also made antipsychotic reduction a quality measurement goal.

“Nursing home staff who take the time to understand what residents are communicating with their behavior can provide care to their residents without using chemical restraints,” Claire Curry, legal director at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville, VA, said in a statement.

Click here for more information about CMS' initiative.

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