CMS Announces Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes

On May 30, CMS announced the Partnership to Improve Dementia Care, an initiative to ensure appropriate care and use of antipsychotic medications fornursing home patients. This partnership – among federal and state partners, nursing homes and other providers, advocacy groups and caregivers – has set a national goal of reducing use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing home residents by 15 percent by the end of 2012. CMS and industry and advocacy partners are taking several steps to achieve this goal of improved care:

• Enhanced training: CMS has developed Hand in Hand, a training series for nursing homes that emphasizes person- centered care, prevention of abuse, and high-quality care for residents. CMS is also providing training focused on behavioral health to state and federal surveyors;

• Increased transparency: CMS is making data on each nursing home’s antipsychotic drug use available on Nursing Home Compare starting in July of this year, and will update this data;

• Alternatives to antipsychotic medication: CMS is emphasizing non-pharmacological alternatives for nursing home residents, including potential approaches such as consistent staff assignments, increased exercise or time outdoors, monitoring and managing acute and chronic pain, and planning individualized activities.

In addition, to address this challenge in the long-term CMS is conducting research to better understand the decision to use or not to use antipsychotic drugs in residents with dementia. A study is underway in 20 to 25 nursing homes, evaluating this decision-making process. Findings will be used to target and implement approaches to improve the overall management of residents with dementia, including reducing the use of antipsychotic drugs in this population.

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