Antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs are overused in B.C.’s long-term residential care facilities, reports Isobel McKenzie, Senior’s Advocate for B.C.
Ms. McKenzie suggests that timely intervention by staff would be better than drugs. This is a simple but naïve – or willfully ignorant – suggestion from our B.C.’s Senior’s Advocate.
Between 2002 and 2004, the B.C. government closed 2,500 non-profit complex care beds, replacing them, in part, with assisted living housing and support services in the community.
Since then, as the need for more beds to serve complex care clients has grown, the number of beds hasn’t kept up.
Residents today are more ill, frail, and more likely to have dementia as the key diagnosis that brought them into residential care. These increased care needs are happening at a time when the staff mix has lowered RN numbers in preference to LPNs, and diminished support services (physical, occupational and recreational therapy).
There simply are not enough hands and eyes to witness, anticipate and intervene in situations of emotional distress and disruptive behaviour. The alternative is medication, not out of choice, but out of need to manage, somehow.
Ms. McKenzie’s facts and suggestion aren’t wrong but they aren’t enough. They need to be followed up with a statement of her intention to look at the causative factors.
Without that, the office of Seniors Advocate is a toothless tiger.