A New Approach for Reducing Medications in Long-Term Care Residents
Award Date: 2017
Project Lead(s): Jennifer Donovan, Nurse, Clinical Research Coordinator
Project Title: Development of a Strategy for Polypharmacy Management and Reduction in LTC
What is the issue?
Many seniors take five or more medications every day. But with aging, the risk of side effects increases. Seniors who take medications they don’t need, or that no longer have the desired benefit have a higher risk of health problems like falling more often.
What did we do?
We created criteria for reducing a particular class of medications called benzodiazepines and other sedative hypnotics that are used for treating insomnia. We evaluated medication reduction, the number of falls, and sleep changes in 17 residents living in three long-term care units at the York Care Centre. We tracked their results with the Momentum Healthware software.
We also looked for technology to help reduce other classes of medications. After discovering that researchers at McGill University had created a software solution called MedSafer, we collaborated with them to test it at the York Care Centre.
What did we find?
Of the 17 residents, nine of them had a reduction in their insomnia medications. There was no increase in falls. Some residents had minor changes in staying asleep. No residents experienced withdrawal symptoms. Two residents were irritable, indicating that they needed to be tapered off their medications more slowly. Based on these successful results, we plan to use MedSafer and roll out the program across New Brunswick.