Study raises concern over anti-psychotic medication in NI care homes

The results of a new study carried out in care homes in Northern Ireland have raised concerns that powerful anti-psychotic medication is being overused.

The research, which was conducted by scientists from Queen’s University in Belfast, involved the analysis of the prescribing records for around 250,000 people. The data used in the study were from people aged 65 years or over living in Northern Ireland care homes and private properties between 2008 and 2010.

What was found in the study is that as soon as elderly people entered care, antipsychotic drug dispensing more than doubled. Before entry to care facilities, 8.2 per cent of those whose data was analysed were prescribed medication such as anti-dementia drugs and tranquilisers. After entering care, this rose considerably to 18.6 per cent.

These results have raised concerns about medication awareness training amongst staff working in care environments, as well as the practices used by care homes to plan out medication for new patients.

Commenting on the wider implications of the research carried out in Northern Ireland, lead researcher Aideen Maguire said:

“Antipsychotic uptake in Northern Ireland is similar to that in the rest of the UK and Ireland, and this study highlights the need for routine medicines reviews especially during the transition into care.”