Making a difference in dementia

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What happened?

A pilot programme to promote the appropriate use of antipsychotics in elderly patients diagnosed with dementia.

Where did it happen?

Wellington: Sprott House and Malvina Major Retirement Village.

When did it happen?

October 2014 to June 2015.


Making a difference in dementia: a pilot study. Final report with results and outcomes. This report has been written by staff members at PHARMAC and Capital Coast DHB. [PDF, 1.6 MB]

Qualitative research on 'Antipsychotic use in dementia' [PDF, 703 KB]

Prescribing antipsychotics to older people: report from pilot study [PDF, 1.3 MB]

There has been increasing concern about the growing use of antipsychotics in older people, sometimes for inappropriate indications. Older people are particularly susceptible to the serious adverse effects associated with antipsychotic medicines.

Antipsychotics should be prescribed only for the specific indications in which they have proven benefit, and should be used at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time. The clinical team responsible for managing the patient's care should regularly monitor for continuing benefit, and for any serious or intolerable adverse effects.

The pilot programme ‘Making a difference in dementia’ was based in two Aged Residential Care facilities (ARC) in the Wellington region. It set out to determine the usefulness of the following interventions for ARC staff managing the care of patients with dementia:

  • staff training and education
  • provision of tools and resources, including a guideline for prescribing antipsychotics
  • proactive support from a specialist nurse and clinician.