A New Approach for Reducing Medications in Long-Term Care Residents

Medication portioned out into a dispenser.

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 insomniaWe evaluated medication reduction, the number of falls, and sleep changes in 17 residents living in three long-term care units at the York Care CentreWe tracked their results with the Momentum Healthware software.   

We also looked for technology to help reduce other classes of medicationsAfter discovering that researchers at McGill University had created 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 medicationsThere was no increase in falls. Some residents had minor changes in staying asleepNo residents experienced withdrawal symptomsTwo residents were irritable, indicating that they needed to be tapered off their medications more slowlyBased on these successful results, we plan to use MedSafer and roll out the program across New Brunswick.