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Inappropriate use of anti-psychotic medication ‘totally unacceptable’ says Commissioner

21.9.17

The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Sarah Rochira, has said that the inappropriate prescribing of anti-psychotic medication to older people living with dementia in care homes is ‘totally unacceptable’. 

Giving evidence to the National Assembly for Wales’ Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, which is undertaking an inquiry into the use of anti-psychotic medication in care homes, the Commissioner called for robust data to be collected and published by health boards to determine the true scale of this issue, which is currently unclear. 

Speaking after her evidence session, the Commissioner said: “A range of evidence published in recent years has suggested that anti-psychotic medication is being inappropriately prescribed to people living with dementia in care homes to manage so-called ‘challenging behaviour’, despite the fact that other, non-pharmaceutical interventions would deliver far better outcomes for individuals and have a positive impact upon their quality of life. 

“One study found that up to 4 out of 5 older people living with dementia who were being prescribed anti-psychotics were gaining no benefit from them. Given the often powerful nature of these drugs and the impact they have, this is simply unacceptable.    

“Whilst there is growing recognition of this issue across health and social care, including the independent sector, it is vital that robust data is collected to determine the true scale of this issue in Wales so that appropriate action can be taken to prevent older people living with dementia being inappropriately prescribed these powerful and sedating drugs. 

“This inquiry is an important step forward in tackling the inappropriate prescribing of anti-psychotic medication in Wales. I look forward to reading the Committee’s report and recommendations and I expect the Welsh Government to respond with meaningful action to ensure that all people living with dementia in care homes can have the best quality of life.”