A care home in the Springhill Care Group has been praised for the way it has achieved zero use of anti-psychotic medication for its 70-plus residents.
Birch Green Care Home, based at Skelmersdale, is taking part in a major new national initiative to reduce the use of anti-psychotics wherever possible.
Birch Green, part of the Springhill Care Group, has committed to the Focused Intervention Training and Support (FITS) initiative, commissioned by The Alzeimer’s Society and the University of Worcester, which involves 10 training programmes each delivered over a 10-day period followed by supervision and mentoring.
Now the achievement of reducing the use of anti-psychotics at the home to zero has been praised by a leading campaigner in the field.
Marion Smyth, whose father Jim, 72, suffers from dementia, has highlighted the dangers of the over-use of anti-psychotics to politicians and brought it to the attention of the Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots.
Praising the achievement by Birch Green, she said: “The effect of some of this medication is often a deterioration in the person taking them. For my father, they contributed to him becoming debilitated and could hardly walk at times.
“He was that bad that he had to spend more than five months in Belfast City Hospital.
“I took him out of the care home and brought him back home. The improvement since not giving him anti-psychotic medication has been marked and I have been able to look after him with some help from social services.
“He is now in a private care home where he is comfortable and not on any anti-psychotic medication. He is much happier and I feel more confident that his condition is being managed. I have nothing but praise for Birch Green and anything that can reduce the use of this medication where appropriate can only be good for the person.”
Birch Green Care Home incorporates simple techniques such as using residents’ life stories to incorporate past hobbies and interests into their lives. The dementia coaches then pass on the knowledge to other staff working within the home.
General manager at Birch Green Catherine Shawarby said: “We were progressing with our own programme in reducing the use of anti-psychotic medication but thought this would also support our goals in this area.
“We are embedding the structures and practices we have learned to help the way we work and pass on the long-term benefits for our residents.”
Anti-psychotic drugs are inappropriately prescribed to an average of 144,000 people with dementia in the UK every year, according to the University of Worcester, doubling the risk of death, trebling the risk of stroke and sometimes leaving people unable to walk or talk.
With two thirds of people in care homes having dementia, it is estimated that this programme could also benefit many thousands more in the future.
Birch Green is a purpose-built care home, which provides high quality nursing and residential care for more than 70 older people, part of the Springhill Care Group of companies which also includes Springhill Care Home, Accrington, and Riversway Nursing Home, Bristol.