Saturday 15 December 2018
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Call for proof of 'chemical cosh' cuts in care homes

Evidence of progress on reducing the inappropriate use of antipsychotic medication in care homes has been demanded by the Older People's Commissioner for Wales.

In 2014, Sarah Rochira published the results of a major review of the experience of care home residents.

The use of antipsychotic drugs was a recurrent theme which she has branded a "national scandal".

Health boards and care homes have said changes are being made.

The commissioner is asking them to show significant improvements in practice.

"I know professionals don't like this phrase, but across Wales older people in care homes, through the inappropriate use of these drugs, are being 'chemically coshed'. That's the reality of it.

"It is a national scandal. I made that clear when I published my review. I was very clear I would come back and look for evidence of changes and I've now begun that process.

"I will publish the findings from the health boards later this year and I cannot be any clearer in my expectation that they understand how inappropriate the current situation is and that they can evidence real progress."

Antipsychotic drugs are primarily used to treat conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

A survey last November by the Royal College of Psychiatrists found nearly one in five - 18% - of dementia patients were being prescribed antipsychotics.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales published its own report into the use of medicines in care homes following the Ms Rochira's report.

The society's director in Wales, Mair Davies, told BBC Radio Wales' Eye on Wales programme that there were examples of expert practice.

"What we need is to make sure that happens in every care home in Wales," she said.

Steve Ford, the dementia care lead for Care Forum Wales, which represents more than 450 independent care homes in Wales, believes progress is being made.

"We need to look at the underlying reasons for unwanted behaviour that challenges, rather than picking up the phone to the GP and requesting those prescriptions," he said.