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Bradford Dementia Group supports reduction of antipsychotic drugs

9 June 11

Bradford Dementia Group, signatories to the Dementia Action Alliance, has today joined the call to secure a significant reduction in the use of antipsychotic drugs for people with dementia by the end of March 2012.

The multi-disciplinary and multi-professional group based within the School of Health Studies at the University of Bradford, is one of over 40 organisations who have joined the Dementia Action Alliance and have committed to transforming the quality of life of people living with dementia in the UK, and the millions of people who care for them.

Incredibly, the quality of life of an estimated 180,000 people with dementia in the UK is at risk, due to inappropriately prescribed antipsychotic drugs. This is more than enough people to fill Wembley Stadium twice over. Such drugs can dramatically worsen the symptoms of dementia, reduce quality of life, increase the care burden and leave people at increased risk of stroke and death.

Professor Murna Downs, Head of Bradford Dementia Group comments, "The inappropriate prescription of antipsychotic drugs to people with dementia is an outrage we have tolerated for far too long.  Such practice has both a significant human and financial cost. Whilst the time-limited prescription of these drugs may be valid in some cases, using them as a blanket solution to control behaviour further disables those who are already frail and negatively impacts on their quality of life."

"There are lots of alternatives to using drugs to control behaviour.  The research evidence, and our own experience working alongside care providers, shows that a more enlightened person-centred approach to care reduces the need for these medications.  Care which addresses people's needs for comfort, contact and engagement can prevent people becoming distressed and behaving in ways that staff find challenging.  It is imperative that we adequately equip staff with the knowledge and skills to provide a person-centred approach to care which recognises residents as people with human needs, no matter how cognitively impaired they may be.  With this information staff can engage in a range of approaches to meeting residents' needs including interaction, conversation, companionship and activities such as music and reminiscence. By effectively addressing residents' human needs, medication is often unnecessary. It is of great concern to us that these harmful medications are so often used as a long term solution for behaviour seen as distressing or aggressive."

"At Bradford Dementia Group, through our research, education, consultancy and training courses, we provide advice to care organisations on the importance of a person centred approach to care. We have seen that this approach makes a significant difference to people with dementia and their families, and also helps to manage the workloads of those who care for them," she says.

Working with a number of key groups from GPs to pharmacists and people with dementia and carers themselves, the Dementia Action Alliance is calling for joint action to ensure that antipsychotics become a last resort, and that the focus is shifted instead to providing the quality, personalised care that people with dementia are entitled to.

9 June 11

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