“Behaviour that Challenges” is common in people living with dementia, resident in care homes and historically has been treated with anti-psychotics. However, such usage is associated with 1800 potentially avoidable deaths annually in the UK. This study investigated the feasibility of a full clinical trial of a specialist dementia care pharmacist medication review combined with a health psychology intervention for care staff to limit the use of psychotropics.
This paper focuses on feasibility; including recruitment and retention, implementation of medication change recommendations and the experiences and expectations of care staff.
West Midlands care homes and individuals meeting the inclusion criteria (dementia diagnosis; medication for behaviour that challenges), or their personal consultee, were approached for consent.
A specialist pharmacist reviewed medication. Care home staff received an educational behaviour change intervention in a three-hour session promoting person-centred care. Primary healthcare staff received a modified version of the training.
The primary outcome measure was the Neuropsychiatric Inventory-Nursing Home version at 3 months. Other outcomes included quality of life, cognition, health economics and prescribed medication. A qualitative evaluation explored expectations and experiences of care staff.
Five care homes and 34 of 108 eligible residents (31.5%) were recruited, against an original target of 45 residents across 6 care homes. Medication reviews were conducted for 29 study participants (85.3%) and the pharmacist recommended stopping or reviewing medication in 21 cases (72.4%). Of the recommendations made, 57.1% (12 of 21) were implemented, and implementation (discontinuation) took a mean of 98.4 days. In total, 164 care staff received training and 21 were interviewed.
Care staff reported a positive experience of the intervention and post intervention adopting a more holistic patient-centred approach.
The intervention contained two elements; staff training and medication review. It was feasible to implement the staff training, and the training appeared to increase the ability and confidence of care staff to manage behaviour that challenges without the need for medication. The medication review would require significant modification for full trial partly related to the relatively limited uptake of the recommendations made, and delay in implementation.