The Department of Health and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission have ramped up measures to address the overuse of psychotropic medications in aged care.

Since the ABC revealed  on its 7.30 program shocking details of physical and medical restraint being used in a number of nursing homes, there have been moves afoot to tighten regulation in this complex area.

Assessors will ask specifically about psychotropic use and restrained numbers

A spokesperson for the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has told HelloCare it is paying closer attention to the use of medication as a restraint in aged care.

“The Commission has recently sharpened its focus on the use of restraints in residential aged care, and providers can now expect that they will be specifically asked about restrictive practices and the use of psychotropic medications during monitoring visits,” the spokesperson said.

The Commission has recently “updated” the questions its quality assessors ask providers at unannounced monitoring visits.

The new questions include:

  • How many consumers at the service are currently receiving psychotropic medications? (The percent of total consumers at the service will be shown.)
  • How many consumers are restrained in order to manage risks to themselves or others at the service? (The percent of total consumers at the service will be noted.)

The full list of questions asked at unannounced audits can be found on the Commission’s website.

The Commissioner’s interim Chief Clinical Advisor, Associate Professor Michael Murray, is also reviewing guidance material for aged care operators, and aims to provide more advice to operators to support best practice in clinical care.

Chemical and physical restraint regulations updated

In the wake of the program being aired, Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt announced that  “regulations” would be updated.

“Incidents of over use of physical and chemical restraint will not be tolerated,” Mr Wyatt’s statement said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health told HelloCare that on Friday 25 January, a paragraph was added to the Atlas of Health Variation as part of a review of aged care’s Standards Guidance being undertaken in the lead up to implementation of the new Aged Care Quality Standards.

The update adds a “specific example” and says,

“Although antipsychotic medicines may be appropriate for adults with severe mental health issues or long-term mental illness, there is concern that these medicines are being prescribed inappropriately in people aged 65 years and over for their sedative effects — that is, as a form of chemical restraint for people with psychological and behavioural symptoms of dementia or delirium.”

What can you do if you are concerned about an aged care service?

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission said that if anyone is concerned about a loved one in aged care, or if they wish to make a complaint, they can contact the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission on 1800 951 822.

Please note: The image used to illustrate this article does not represent actual people or events. Image: iStock.

 

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