CFHI Supports Projects to Improve Care for Dementia Patients: Teams Across Canada will Tackle Inappropriate Antipsychotic Medication Use

by User Not Found | Jun 04, 2014

Banff, Canada – June 4, 2014 – The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement today announced its support for 15 teams from healthcare organizations across Canada to reduce the inappropriate use of antipsychotic medications among patients with dementia. Teams from seven provinces and one territory participating in the Reducing Antipsychotic Medication Use in Long Term Care collaborative will adapt and implement an approach that reduced by 27 percent the number of residents on antipsychotic medication among a cohort in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. Today, the teams are connecting with international experts and each other at CFHI’s Spreading Healthcare Innovations workshop.

Each team will focus on reducing the inappropriate use of antipsychotic medication in their respective organization, representing a wide range of organizations providing residential care for seniors, including not-for-profit charities, regional health authorities and tertiary psychiatric hospitals. Teams are comprised of healthcare administrators, clinical champions – such as physicians, nurse practitioners and pharmacists – and patients. Participating organizations are located in urban, rural and northern settings, including teams from Yukon to British Columbia and across the country to Newfoundland and Labrador.

CFHI is providing funding and other support, including help measuring the impact these projects will make to patient care and health spending. CFHI will help teams adapt tools and implement them in their own context.

  • One in three long term care residents in Canada is on antipsychotic medication without a diagnosis of psychosis from a doctor.
  • There is also significant variation between rates in different long term care homes, pointing to the potentially inappropriate use of these medications.
  • Choosing Wisely Canada has identified the use of antipsychotics as a first choice to treat behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia as a common practice, not supported by evidence, that could expose patients to harm.
  • Many of the teams participating in the collaborative will be scaling up existing work to reduce their rates of antipsychotic medication use. In British Columbia, for example, through this collaborative Fraser Health is planning to scale up the approach they have used in five care homes to 14 care homes. Eastern Health in Newfoundland will accelerate a phased-in regional implementation process that started in 2013.

“Through funding for the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, our Government is supporting innovative ways of improving care for patients. This collaborative will lead to better care for Canadians living with dementia in long term care homes.” 
The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Federal Minister of Health

“Across Canada, there are innovations taking place in the delivery of care. The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement is facilitating the spread and scale-up of promising healthcare innovations within and across organizations, regions, provinces and territories.”
Maureen O’Neil, O.C., CFHI President

"The use of antipsychotic medications as a first choice to treat behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia is a practice that can seriously harm patients. That's why the Canadian Geriatrics Society is encouraging healthcare providers, patients and their caregivers to 'think twice' as part of the Choosing Wisely Canada campaign. We're pleased to see that the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement is supporting teams to make evidence-informed decisions that improve patient care."
Dr. Karen Fruetel, Vice-president Canadian Geriatrics Society, a member of Choosing Wisely Canada

“Seniors often enter residential care on multiple medications. Prescribing more drugs, especially antipsychotics which can be so harmful to elders, is not the answer. Our mother was diagnosed with dementia but she completely recovered cognitively when drugs causing an interaction were discontinued. We need more of these valuable projects to address medication safety for seniors."
Johanna Trimble, Patient/Family Representative: Fraser Health Team

“Well controlled studies in long term care homes show that it is possible to reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs in patients with dementia and behavioural symptoms without detrimental effects. However, it has been a challenge to replicate these results clinically.  The Geriatric Psychiatry Outreach Team at the Royal is very pleased to be involved in this national initiative that will translate this evidence into concrete action and provide the best possible care for patients followed by the team in long term care.”
Dr. Wiens, MD FRCPC, Psychiatrist at The Royal, Head of the division of Geriatric Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa and Clinical lead for The Royal in this national initiative.

For a full list of teams, visit:


For more information, please contact:

Graeme Wilkes
Senior Director, Communications and Government Relations
Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement
C:  613- 698 7538