Feds Announce Dementia Care Initiative

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced a national Partnership to Improve Dementia Care, with a goal of reducing the use of antipsychotic drugs among nursing home residents by 15 percent by the end of the calendar year. Currently, the agency estimates that as many as 40 percent of patients with signs of dementia receive antipsychotic drugs, despite the absence of a diagnoses of psychosis. The agency is emphasizing non-pharmacological alternatives, including more consistent staff assignments, more exercise for patients, better management of chronic pain and individualized activity planning. CMS has developed a “Hand in Hand” training program for nursing home staff, emphasizing abuse prevention and patient-centered care. State and federal nursing home surveyors are receiving increased training in behavioral health. In addition, beginning this month CMS is including facility-specific rates of antipsychotic drug use on the Medicare Nursing Home Compare website located at http://www.medicare.gov/nhcompare. According to CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner: “We want our loved ones with dementia to receive the best care and the highest quality of life possible.”