Getting seniors off antipsychotic drugs improves quality of life: pilot program

Click to play video: 'Pilot project aims to reduce amount of drugs used in nursing homes' Pilot project aims to reduce amount of drugs used in nursing homes
WATCH ABOVE: A pilot project examining how antipsychotic drugs are used in nursing homes is leading to some changes. Global’s Adrienne South has the details – May 16, 2016

Seniors at York Care Centre in Fredericton are part of a national pilot program aiming to reduce the number of antipsychotic drugs they are taking.

The antipsychotic drug pilot project found that 55 senior residents  at York Care Centre were taking the drugs unnecessarily.

Executive director of the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes Michael Keating said there’s been a change to a more holistic approach in the industry.

“What’s happened is research has developed, and our job–in addition to caring for the people that live with us–is to provide them with dignity and respect, and a quality of life being as close as it was to being alone as possible,”said Keating.

Fifty-six homes across the country have already cut their use of the drugs.

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Eugene McGinley’s older sister, Anna Hanley, is living at the centre. McGinley said he’s noticed positive changes in Anna- such as becoming more social.

One way York Care Centre is helping residents adjust to the change in medication is through its pet therapy program.

York Care Centre’s manager of activation and volunteer services Stephanie Seymour said animals in the facility help keep anxiety levels low for people like Anna, who have started to come out of their rooms more for social time.

“A prime example is our rabbit is a very kind-natured animal, specifically, and being able to give him to a resident to help reduce the anxiety and [the] agitation moments is huge. And that way it can provide very sensory and emotional connections,” Seymour said.

McGinley said Anna has become more “content” as a result.

“I do accept it as–we’re beginning to understand that this could be the result of the decrease in the amount of medication being administered,” McGinley said.

Keating said he’s thrilled with the project and is happy to see it’s also positively impacting family members of residents like McGinley.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “We all want to have value in life, and if this is going to help the lives of others, then…Our entire office staff is quite excited, as is the sector. They’re embracing this quite strongly and we’re happy about that.”

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Keating said he hopes this initiative will be spring-boarded across Canada in other nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Due to the success of the program at York Care Centre, 15 more facilities in New Brunswick will be taking part. Keating said there will be an official announcement on Tuesday.



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