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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 10 April, 2020
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Dispensing psychotropic drugs to the elderly doubles when they enter care

The results showed that psychotropic drug use was almost 20 times higher in care homes than in the community in Northern Ireland.

THE AMOUNT OF psychotropic drugs given to elderly people in Northern Ireland increases considerably when they enter a care home.

According to a study by Queen’s University Belfast, dispensing the drugs – that affects the mood or mind  - more than doubled from 8.2 per cent before entry to care homes to 18.6 per cent after entering care.

The study analysed 250,000 people’s prescriptions, aged 65 years and over, living in Northern Ireland from 2008 to 2010, and looked at drug uptake during the transition from community to care. The results showed that psychotropic drug use was almost 20 times higher in care homes than in the community.

In a small proportion of residents the psychotropic medication was a continuation of a prescription that had been started before entry, but one in six individuals with no history of psychotropic drug use in the six months before entry had been exposed to at least one antipsychotic prescription within six months of entering care.

Lead researcher on the Queen’s study, Aideen Maguire,  said with an ageing population globally it is important that we look at the reasons behind this type of increase:

Antipsychotic uptake in Northern Ireland is similar to that in the rest of the UK and Ireland, and this study highlights the need for routine medicines reviews especially during the transition into care.

Professor Carmel Hughes from the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s added: “This is an important study of national and international relevance, as with an ageing population, quality of care for older people is an ongoing public health concern.”

Read: 347 psychiatric patients received electro-shock therapy in 2010 >

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Amy Croffey

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