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Nursing homes report worrying

Resource type: News

Irish News |

MOST elderly people, given the choice, would prefer to live independently in their own homes, with appropriate support for the inevitable frailties and infirmities associated with old age. However, in many cases there comes a time when staying at home is no longer the best or safest option and nursing or’ residential care is required. It is a situation which thousands of people have experienced and placing an elderly, vulnerable relative into the care of a residential home is essentially an exercise in trust, with families expecting that a loved one will receive the best possible treatment and attention. Given the vulnerability of so many elderly patients, there will be widespread concern at new research into the use of prescription medicines in nursing homes in Northern Ireland. According to a report by Queen’s University Belfast, psychiatric drugs such as sedatives, sleeping tablets and antidepressants are being wrongly prescribed to more than half the patients in 22 nursing homes which took part in the study. While it will be appropriate to use this type of medication in certain circumstances, the use of sedatives where there is no clinical need cannot be regarded as acceptable. It is also clear from the study that procedures and methods can vary from home to home and the lack of a coordinated and consistent strategy can lead to patients taking the wrong medicine for a prolonged period. There is surely a lesson in the approach adapted from the United States, which showed that when there was more discussion with those involved in patient care, inappropriate prescribing sharply decreased. Hopefully, this research will highlight an overlooked area and lead to improvements in the quality of care of many elderly people.

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nursing home care, nursing homes, Queen's University Belfast