Antipsychotics and benzodiazepines have a limited role in the management of people with dementia who experience changed behaviours such as aggression or agitation and should not be used as the first line of treatment, according to a new national educational program being rolled out by NPS MedicineWise.
The Dementia and changed behaviours: a person-centred approach program aims to increase health professionals’ and carers’ knowledge of first line non-pharmacological approaches when caring for people with dementia in both residential aged care and community settings who experience changed behaviours such as aggression or agitation at some point during their illness.
“Given that 90% of people with dementia will experience changed behaviours such as aggression or agitation at some point during the course of their illness, a collaborative multidisciplinary approach that encourages the involvement of the person with dementia and their family is key to personalising and tailoring management,” NPS MedicineWise medical adviser and GP Dr Anna Samecki says.
The program will highlight resources available to help identify triggers for changed behaviours and inform best management.
Key elements of the program include:
- A multimodal educational program to aged care facilities aimed at supporting champion nurses and pharmacists working in the sector
- Educational visits to individual GPs and small groups in general practices
- Webinars for GPs, pharmacists and nurses:
- Working together to enhance transitions of care for people with dementia is now available as an on-demand recording.
- MedicineWise article for GPs: A portrait of dementia and changed behaviours
- RADAR article: Risperidone: Revised PBS restrictions for behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia
- Online resources for consumers and GPs
“Antipsychotics and benzodiazepines have a limited role and they should not be used first line,” Dr Samecki says.
“If they are needed, the program highlights the importance of collaboration between the person or carer and the healthcare team in management decisions, which includes obtaining informed consent. These medicines should be used at the lowest possible dose, with a plan in place to review, wean and stop.”
The program was developed in consultation with key stakeholders including Dementia Support Australia, Dementia Training Australia, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN).
For more information on the new Dementia and changed behaviours: a person-centred approach program visit – https://www.nps.org.au/professionals/antipsychotic-medicines