The PA Partnership to Improve Dementia Care seeks to improve dementia care in nursing facilities, particularly through improved approaches to behavioral healthcare and limited antipsychotic medication use.
Every day in nursing homes across the country, the people living in them, their families, clinicians, and caregivers work together in an effort to provide a safe, comfortable, nurturing environment for the individuals who live there and their caregivers.
Frequently, people living with dementia and related conditions demonstrate behavioral symptoms that suggest they are experiencing an unmet need - something in the environment that is confusing or upsetting, in essence, a lack of comfort. The resident may only be able to communicate this through non-verbal actions.
We look for environmental triggers of these actions or reactions. Typically, persons with dementia have lower thresholds for developing anxiety or other symptoms. Creating a warm, welcoming, personalized environment may reduce some of these behavioral symptoms.
Engaging residents and their families in the decision-making process surrounding behavioral health and medication use in persons with dementia is also critical. Personalized care and individualized daily routines are essential for quality of life in a nursing home. In caring for individuals living with dementia, many of whom may not be able to express themselves clearly, understanding and respecting autonomy and choice are very important.
The Care Plan
The care plan should reflect the behavioral symptoms exhibited, the approaches used by caregivers, and information on whether or not these approaches have been effective. The care plan should also reflect goals for reducing the person’s symptoms, as well as identify how caregivers will monitor to see if the symptoms are reduced. Consistent assignment is an essential and foundational practice for individualized care planning. This may reduce the likelihood of inappropriate antipsychotic drug use, as well as the improvement of clinical outcomes.