Skilled Nursing Providers Slash Antipsychotic Use 34%

Efforts to improve comprehensive dementia care and reduce antipsychotic use in long-term care are paying off, with skilled nursing facilities exceeding goals set five years ago. But SNFs that still have high rates of antipsychotic use now have to meet a new benchmark established by the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

As part of its National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes initiative, CMS reported Monday that the national prevalence of antipsychotic use in long-term care residents was reduced by 34.1%—decreasing nationwide usage from 23.9% at the beginning of the initiative in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 15.7% by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

This performance surpassed the agency’s original goal of reducing the national prevalence by 30% by the end of 2016.


For facilities with limited reduction rates, CMS has installed a new goal of a 15% reduction by the end of 2019, using the baseline rate of fourth quarter 2011. CMS has provided data on these facilities to state-level dementia care coalitions, which will be reaching out to the SNFs.

While some states displayed more progress than others, all 50 states and every CMS region showed an overall improvement, the agency reported.

Established in 2012, the National Partnership involved a multi-pronged approach, including public reporting; partnerships and state-based coalitions; research; training for providers and surveyors; and revised surveyor guidance, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of care and life of long-term care and dementia patients. Providers have been focused on behavioral approaches to managing dementia symptoms rather than medicating residents unnecessarily.


In one example of this type of approach, a partnership between Brown University and Music & Memory, a Mineola, N.Y.-based organization, may have hit the perfect note in combating this issue.

The Music & Memory program provides iPods for nursing home residents, with the goal of bringing back happy memories and improving the overall quality of life for patients.

The program caught the attention of Brown’s Center for Long-Term Care Quality & Innovation which, in a retroactive study last year, found that facilities utilizing Music & Memory saw more residents suspending use of antipsychotic drugs, in addition to a decline in behavioral problems.

Through a $3.7 million grant from the National Institute of Aging, Brown will pilot the Music & Memory program at four nursing homes to study the effects of music on reducing the use of antipsychotic drug among nursing home residents.

Written by Carlo Calma

Companies featured in this article: