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Antipsychotic drugs being prescribed to a third of seniors in residential care: Report

According to a report released today by the B.C. Seniors Advocate, 33 per cent of residential care clients are being prescribed antipsychotic drugs even though only four per cent have actually been diagnosed with the disorder.

In addition to over prescribing antipsychotic drugs, the Advocate found about 47 per cent of residential care clients are being given antidepressant medications, while only 24 per cent of those seniors have actually been assessed with depression.

“This is a sizable gap between diagnosis and prescription,” said seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie.

“We should be asking serious questions, given the side effects of these drugs, as to whether they are the most appropriate of the seniors in question.”

The report, which looked at the health assessment records from 25,000 seniors in residential care and 29,000 seniors in home care in B.C., also found other issues that are an “immediate concern.”

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One of those immediate concerns involves B.C. seniors being incorrectly housed. Up to 15 per cent of seniors who are living in residential care may be there in error, with assisted living or community care being better options.

Mackenzie said this finding is “troubling” because “most seniors would prefer to live independently than in residential care.” And since there is a shortage of residential care beds in some parts of the province, reallocating the seniors who are able to live independently would free up nearly 1,500 beds.

Another key finding in the report included the significant lack of rehabilitative therapies in B.C.’s residential care facilities compared to Alberta and Ontario.

This is the first time the assessment records have been reviewed and reported on at the provincial level. The Advocate was also able to compare B.C.’s records with both Alberta and Ontario.

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