“Getting prescribing right for people with dementia, who are among the most vulnerable in our society, is a clinical imperative.”
Professor Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director for Dementia in England, Department of Health
The majority of people with dementia will experience behavioural and psychological symptoms as part of their illness. Evidence suggests an over-reliance on prescriptions, particularly antipsychotic drugs, in helping to manage these symptoms. For example, a recent report for estimated that 180,000 people in the UK are prescribed antipsychotic drugs and that approximately 36,000 of them will gain some benefit (Banerjee, 2009).
Download The use of antipsychotic medication for people with dementia: Time for action (Banerjee, 2009)
The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement and the Dementia Action Alliance together launched ‘a call to action’ to improve the quality of life of people with dementia and their carers by reducing the inappropriate use of antipsychotics for these people.
Good practice recommendations, such as the NICE dementia guidelines and the Alzheimer’s Society’s Optimising treatment and care guidelines, recommend psychosocial interventions as the first line approach and emphasise the importance of assessing medical conditions and pain, which often underpin the development of these symptoms.
Good practice guides include:
- Royal College of Nursing (2012) Antipsychotic drugs in dementia: a best practice guide London, RCN. This summarises some of the main considerations in the prescribing of antipsychotic drugs to people with dementia.
- Alzheimer’s Society (2011) Optimising treatment and care for behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. A best practice guide for health and social care professionals. London, Alzheimer’s Society.
- National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (2006) NICE clinical guideline 42 Dementia: Supporting people with dementia and their carers in health and social care. London, NICE.