Backgrounder: Best Practices Guide for Safely Reducing Anti-Psychotic Drug Use in Residential Care

Anti-Psychotic Drugs

  • Anti-psychotic drugs were first developed to treat psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They are increasingly being used to manage the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.
  • In 2011, the Ministry of Health found that British Columbia residential care homes had higher rates of anti-psychotic drug use than other provinces.
  • It is now generally accepted that all anti-psychotics should be used with caution for persons with dementia (Ministry of Health, 2012). Antipsychoticguidecover


  • In British Columbia, over 70,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia (Alzheimer’s Society of BC).
  • The number of dementia cases in BC is estimated to increase 47% by 2026 (Ministry of Health, 2011).
  • People with dementia can become confused, aggressive and agitated.
  • These behaviours can be distressing for both the person with dementia and their caregiver.

Workplace Safety

  • The second most common cause of occupational injury in residential care is being struck or grabbed. This accounts for over 1,000 time-loss claims per year in BC. Many of these claims are related to staff caring for people with dementia (WorkSafeBC).
  • 50% of nurses working in geriatrics / long-term care homes reported that they had been physically assaulted by a patient in the previous year. 49% reported emotional abuse (Statistics Canada, 2005).

BCCPA Members’ Results

  • 50% reduction in the use of anti-psychotics (Luther Court Society, Victoria).
  • Only 22% of residents prescribed an atypical anti-psychotic (The Lodge at Broadmead, Saanich).
  • Only 21% of residents are on atypical anti-psychotics (Northcrest Care Centre, Delta).
  • 45% reduction in anti-psychotic use within four months (New Vista Society, Burnaby).
  • Reduced the use of anti-psychotics from 25% to 3.5% (Cheam Village, Agassiz).
  • Fewer than 30% of residents are on anti-psychotics (Creekside Landing, Vernon).
  • 51% reduction in anti-psychotic medication use (The Hamlets at Westsyde, Kamloops).
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