Sedating dementia ► a global alert, shocking disparities and a blueprint for action!

Towards transforming quality and safety in dementia care.

 

What’s the global problem here?

WHO report (2012) affirms that drugs given for the management of behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementia are being overprescribed globally. Although first-line treatment for behaviour that challenges is non-pharmacological, the prescription of psychotropics remains high and it appears that current systems deliver a largely antipsychotic-based response. Prevalence rates of antipsychotics prescribing range from 20% to 33% and most cases are residing in care homes.

What harms can antipsychotics do to people with dementia?

1,000 people with dementia on an antipsychotic x 12 weeks = 10 extra deaths + 18 extra cerebrovascular events + 58–94 gait disturbances!

Does Europe overprescribe too?

The Alzheimer Cooperative Valuation in Europe (ALCOVE), described in a previous blog, confirms that people living with dementia in Europe are overexposed to antipsychotics.
Whilst the prevalence in over 65s was 10.6% in the general population, and 22% in memory assessment units, prescribing was highest in care homes at 35.6% (25.8 % in Norway and 60% in Italy).
It goes further; overuse of antidepressants, prolonged use of antipsychotics, concomitant use (two antipsychotics or with other psychotropics e.g. hypnotics), or absence of use as second-line after a non-pharmacological approach are also reported. 

These variations are as alarming as they are unacceptable!

Do we have affordable solutions?

There aren’t that many health economic studies. In one cohort of 133,713 individuals with dementia requiring antipsychotic drugs in England, in fact it was estimated that behavioural interventions cost £27.6 million more per year than antipsychotic drugs. 

However, the additional investment was offset by nearly £70.4 million in healthcare savings due to reduced incidence of strokes and falls, and quality of life improvements to the tune of £12.0 million in benefits per annum. Non-pharmacological interventions therefore represented an efficient use of public resources.

Can the ALCOVE toolbox help?  

For an overview find out in this video (French subtitles

 

What’s in the box?  ☞

(1)  risk exposure measures in Europe

(2) models of tried and tested risk reduction programmes

  • England’s The Right Prescription; Call to Action, (reduced Antipsychotic prescriptions for people with dementia by 52% in three years) and
  • France’s National Authority for Health  programme (reduced the rate of Antipsychotics exposure in people with Alzheimer’s disease from 16.9% to 15.5% over 3 years). In fact the French ‘mastering indicator’ is used as a proxy Quality of Life indicator, as a measure of national implementation progress and as a quality indicator for care homes. 

(3) links to timely diagnosis

(4) ethical principles underpinning prescribing, and

(5) national programmes to prevent and manage behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementia.

Shaking the tree!

Behaviours that challenge in dementia are almost always a product of complex interactions between care structures and organisations, individual factors, and workforce skills.

ALCOVE contains an up-to-date evidence base for interventions that work and proposes a 3 D model for reference in all settings.

Here then is an opportunity to begin (or continue) conversations to limit the use of antipsychotics and other psychotropics for people with dementia.

This goes deeper! In fact this is a blueprint to help unravel, develop and deliver alternatives to chemical restraints. A seismic culture shift. A transformation in care standards. An end to letting down vulnerable people!

What we have here is a potent yet underused proxy for quality and safety in dementia care globally.

Whether you are a concerned member of the public, a person living with dementia, or clinician, I hope this toolbox might assist you to weave your own priorities, perspectives and partnerships into implementing what’s right for your local community.

Let’s shake this tree and see what happens?

@KarimS3D

 

Advancing European healthcare policies for people living with dementia and their carers

As a member of ALCOVE’s executive board, it gives me great pleasure to announce the arrival of a new and far-reaching joint action project, co-financed by the European Commission.

The last 50 years in Europe have seen an increase in life expectancy, as well as a corresponding surge in diseases linked to ageing, particularly dementia. Given the high prevalence, cost, and profound impact on society of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, the European Union has accorded dementia a high public health priority.

ALCOVE brings together 30 partners from 19 EU Member States to improve our knowledge and information exchange on dementia and its consequences, and to preserve health, quality of life, autonomy, and dignity of people living with dementia and their carers in EU member states.

ALCOVE’s main objectives are to:

  • establish a European network of healthcare institutions
  • inform and advise policymakers, healthcare professionals, caregivers, and citizens through convergent recommendations
  • reduce the risks associated with psychotropic drug use, particularly antipsychotics.

ALCOVE aims to improve data on dementia prevalence; access to early dementia diagnosis; care for those living with dementia, especially those with behavioural and psychological symptoms; and the rights of people with dementia, particularly with respect to advance declarations of will. A Toolkit to reduce Antipsychotics will also form part of the project.

In conducting this work, ALCOVE draws on previous European studies, and existing networks.

England’s task includes making recommendations to improve early diagnosis, very topical. don’t you think?

I look forward to collaborating with Professor Dawn Brooker and her team (Association for Dementia Studies, Worcester University) to deliver this timely piece of work.

For more about progress visit http://www.alcove-project.eu/

ALCOVE will report its findings in Paris in the Spring of 2013 so watch this space.

@KarimS3D