CFHI and Nursing Homes Join Forces to Improve Dementia Care In New Brunswick

by Nadine Morris | May 17, 2016
First fifteen nursing homes commit to taking seniors off harmful antipsychotic drugs

Fredericton, New Brunswick – May 17, 2016 – The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) and the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes (NBANH) today announced the first 15 nursing homes that have been selected to participate in the New Brunswick Appropriate Use of Antipsychotics Collaborative, a two-year province-wide program that will improve dementia care through the appropriate use of antipsychotic medications.

The New Brunswick Appropriate Use of Antipsychotics Collaborative scales-up the results achieved through CFHI’s pan-Canadian Reducing Antipsychotic Medication Use in Long Term Care collaborative that concluded in October 2015. From 2014 to 2015, CFHI worked with 56 nursing homes to take hundreds of residents with dementia off the antipsychotic medication they were inappropriately prescribed. Early results show that 54 percent of residents had their antipsychotics discontinued or significantly reduced with no increase in aggressive behaviours, and falls among participating residents decreased by 20 percent.

In 2016, the New Brunswick Appropriate Use of Antipsychotics Collaborative will see 15 nursing homes in the province implement a similar strategy, with staff using a person-centred, non-pharmacological approach to manage challenging behaviours associated with dementia. Today’s announcement is the first step in rolling out this program to all nursing homes in New Brunswick by 2017. The New Brunswick Appropriate Use of Antipsychotics Collaborative is being supported by $600,000 in funding from the Government of New Brunswick.

York Care Centre in Fredericton, a NBANH member, participated in the original CFHI-led collaborative, and achieved significant results: reducing antipsychotic medication use by 46 percent, improving care for residents and their families, and reducing costs. Now, NBANH and CFHI are working to spread York Care Centre’s success to nursing homes throughout New Brunswick.

A new national report has shown that programs to promote the appropriate use of antipsychotics in New Brunswick nursing homes could prevent 600,000 prescriptions in the next five years, preventing falls and hospital visits. This would save the province $4 million in direct healthcare costs over the next five years, increasing to an average of $4 million in annual savings over the next 30 years. Every nursing home resident enrolled in the program would save the province $1,619 in direct healthcare costs each year.

CFHI is providing tailored learning and coaching to help interprofessional teams of healthcare providers at New Brunswick nursing homes use data to identify patients who may benefit from non-drug therapies to treat behavioural issues related to dementia. Armed with better information about each resident, frontline staff will tailor services to support not only quality of care, but also quality of life for nursing home residents. This involves frontline staff and clinicians in nursing homes working together with families to provide personalized care, such as music and recreation therapy, that can replace antipsychotic drugs and improve the quality of life of residents.

Based on drug spending data, New Brunswick has among the highest provincial rates of antipsychotic use in the elderly. In 2013, the rate of antipsychotic medication use was nearly twice as high in New Brunswick as the rest of Canada. These high rates suggest that antipsychotics are being used inappropriately in long term care. The situation in New Brunswick is exacerbated by the rate at which the province’s population is aging. It is forecast that by 2020, the New Brunswick population will be five years older than the national average.

Nationwide, one-in-four residents of long term care is taking antipsychotic medication without a diagnosis of psychosis. Non-medication interventions, such as patient-centred approaches, have proven effective in managing the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia and addressing challenging behaviours. In fact, they are often more effective than drug treatments which have limited benefit and can cause harm.

CFHI is calling for bold action across Canada to change the culture of overmedicating seniors with dementia and increase access to alternate programs. Through this initiative New Brunswick is responding to this call to action and improving the care and health of nursing home residents with dementia while also promoting the sustainability of the provincial health system.

For the full list of participating New Brunswick nursing homes, visit:

For more information about this work:

CFHI Website:  

National Antipsychotic Report (with New Brunswick data):



“This collaboration is an excellent example of patient-centred innovation that improves prescribing practices and the appropriate use of prescription drugs. These kinds of projects have a positive impact on the health and well-being of seniors living with dementia and their families, as well as our health care system overall.”

– The Hon. Jane Philpott, Minister of Health

“Addressing the issue of healthy aging and caring for seniors is a top priority for our government. This important investment of $600,000 will help improve care for nursing home residents who have been diagnosed with dementia.”

– New Brunswick Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers

“The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement is delighted to announce the nursing homes that are participating in this worthwhile program that will improve the care of nursing home residents throughout New Brunswick.”

– Maureen O’Neil, O.C., President,CFHI

“The New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes is proud to work with the 15 member nursing homes that will lead the way through the New Brunswick Appropriate Use of Antipsychotics Collaborative. This program will improve the quality of life of our cherished nursing home residents.”

– Michael Keating, Executive Director, NBANH

“Residents of York Care Centre benefitted greatly from our participation in CFHI’s initial Reducing Antipsychotic Medication in Long Term Care collaborative. Spreading this program province-wide for the benefit of more New Brunswickers just makes sense.”

– Kevin Harter, President & Chief Executive Officer, York Care Centre

About CFHI

The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement identifies proven innovations and accelerates their spread across Canada, improving patient care, the health of Canadians and value-for-money. These innovations could save healthcare budgets over $1 billion per year. CFHI is a not-for-profit organization funded by Health Canada. Visit for more information.

The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.   


Leading excellence in long term care, the mission of the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes is to lead member homes through a united voice by advocating excellence in long term care and service delivery in New Brunswick.

For more information, or to arrange media interviews, please contact:

Joel Baglole
Senior Communications Specialist
Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement
C:  613-797-6481