Shared responsibility, holistic, informed approach - the solution for dementia care plans

Monday 14 January 2019

Developing and managing a care plan for people living with dementia is a shared responsibility between health and aged care organisations.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said it provides an opportunity to demonstrate clinical leadership and evidence based practice in all aspects of care including minimising the use of antipsychotic medications and other forms of restraint.   

“The focus of the care plan must be to deliver the best possible care and quality of life at every stage of the disease,” Ms McCabe said. 

“The use of antipsychotic medications and restraint in the majority of instances is contrary to achieving these outcomes.

“A partnership between the person living with dementia, family carers, their treating doctor, pharmacist and other health and aged care professionals is crucial to providing alternatives to the use of antipsychotic medications.

“There are many non-pharmacological interventions that must be considered as first line options when some of the challenging symptoms of dementia may present.

“These options may include administering pain relief, tailoring personal care practices to the individual’s preferences, treating an underlying infection that can result in a delirium, correcting problems with vision or hearing, playing favourite music or working with the family to engage the person in more meaningful and stimulating activities. 

“These initiatives may have lasting and positive outcomes, before prescribing antipsychotic medications is considered,” Ms McCabe said.

The environment also has a powerful influence on the ability of the person living with dementia to process and interpret situations, interactions and surroundings.

“Environments that are dementia-friendly support the care and wellbeing of the person,” Ms McCabe said.

“Research shows the use of antipsychotic medication is appropriate in about 20 per cent of cases, especially when it comes to ensuring the safety of the resident, family or staff.

“There needs to be a commitment from all stakeholders to dementia education to eliminate the over use of antipsychotic medication, and to improve the health and care outcomes for people living with dementia.”

Dementia Australia has long called for reductions in the use of antipsychotic medications in aged care. For reference The use of restraints and psychotropic medications in people with dementia 2014*.

*This publication refers to Alzheimer’s Australia. In October 2017 the organisation changed its name to Dementia Australia.

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Dementia Australia is the national peak body and charity for people, of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. An estimated 436,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach almost 1.1 million by 2058. Dementia Australia is the new voice of Alzheimer’s Australia. Dementia Australia’s services are supported by the Australian Government.

National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500

Interpreter service available

(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)

Dementia is a National Health Priority Area

www.dementia.org.au

Media contacts: Christine Bolt 0400 004 553 christine.bolt@dementia.org.au / Gabrielle Prabhu 0447 253 583 gabrielle.prabhu@dementia.org.au

When talking or writing about dementia please refer to Dementia Language Guidelines.