On training for state nursing homes
Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012 7:00 pm
By THE TENNESSEAN
Americans have a steep learning curve ahead of us as we begin to understand how to care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Steep, because more than a quarter of the population is moving into their senior years; and because there is much more research to be done on dementia. That is all the more reason that Tennessee health professionals be as informed as possible on how they treat the elderly in their care.
A Dec. 11 Tennessean report notes an unusually high rate of use of anti-psychotic drugs among the state’s long-term nursing home residents.
Thirty percent of these residents are receiving antipsychotics, and in many cases they are used not as therapy, but simply to keep the residents manageable for nursing home staff. If you’ve seen the 1970s film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” you have an idea of the zombie-like state the drugs can induce.
Even though we don’t know as much as we should about dementia in our society, this is not acceptable.
According to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, administering antipsychotics to elderly dementia patients increases the chance of death and can have other harmful side effects.
For example, elderly patients on these drugs are more prone to falls. And they are unable to convey to family or to nursing home staff how they are feeling or what they may need.
Fortunately, the state has used a federal grant to begin training nursing home workers on how to work with these patients without always resorting to pills.
The state, with a $370,000 grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has initiated a series of training sessions for nursing home workers on ways to treat patients without resorting to pills, especially antipsychotics.
They are focusing on ways to communicate with patients with dementia when they are angry, confused or acting out. ...
Training is a good idea, but unless the heads of the companies accept this approach and put their patients first, nursing home workers are going to feel pressured to keep handing out the “shut-up pills.”
Maybe there should be a grant for training CEOs, too.
Published in The WCP 12.27.12