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Rocky Mountain Care

Rocky Mountain dramatically reduces antipsychotics usage while tracking individualized interventions

The use of antipsychotic medications among residents with dementia dropped 10 percentage points at Rocky Mountain Care - Willow Springs, a long-term care organization, thanks to an innovative campaign supported by the tracking functionality of Cerner’s PowerChart® LTC.

Dementia is a common condition in long-term care organizations, and can manifest as behaviors such as hitting, yelling, wandering, and crying. These behaviors occur because the person has difficulty communicating their needs, and can pose challenges for families, residents and caregivers. Historically antipsychotic medication was often used to remedy the situation, making the resident drowsy or groggy.

The U.S. government has enacted an ongoing national initiative to reduce the usage of antipsychotic medications. To meet this goal, Sarah Young, director of nursing at Willow Springs, implemented a Music & Memory program. It treats dementia’s behavioral and psychological symptoms associated with non-pharmacologic options.

When residents exhibit outbursts, staff members provide a number of alternative options to medication, such as music therapy, physical activities, eating a snack, and more.

“Each person is so individual on what intervention works for them, but if you find the right one, it works,” Young said. “It gives them something to do and we don’t have to drug them to get them to calm down. We want them to be as natural and in their natural personality as they can.”

At Willow Springs, staff members chart the behaviors and the interventions in PowerChart LTC, most importantly, they also record whether or not an intervention is successful. They are then able to use the solution to view which interventions work best for each resident over time.

The care center has seen significant improvements in unnecessary drug use due to their efforts. In the second quarter of 2014, 15.8 percent of patients at the center used antipsychotic drugs, but by the beginning of 2016, that number fell to just 4.9 percent, a 69 percent reduction.

“The reductions were directly tied to the Behavior Tracking in PowerChart LTC,” Young noted. “I could see what interventions the staff were using due to their documentation on the interventions. We reduced several residents off antipsychotics using this information. This has continued to be a big part of our Psychotropic meeting and we continue to reduce using this process.”

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Client outcomes were achieved in respective settings and are not representative of benefits realized by all clients due to many variables, including solution scope, client capabilities and business and implementation models.