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Crowe backs call for end to practice of 'chemically managing' dementia patients

15 June, 2006

Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has echoed the call made by the Alzheimer Society of Ireland for an end to the practice of some nursing homes of “chemically managing” dementia residents.  Chief executive of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Maurice O’Connell states that medication is being used as a way of managing inconvenient and challenging behaviour by nursing home residents with dementia and to make up for deficiencies in staff numbers and training.

Speaking today on the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Deputy Crowe said, “The practice of chemically managing dementia patients, as highlighted by the Alzheimer Society of Ireland today, must come to an immediate halt.  The Leas Cross episode has meant that public confidence in nursing homes in this state is at an all time low. Today’s revelation will no doubt further lower that confidence and will cause an extra worry for families that are already under extreme pressure.  It is clear there is a need for closer scrutiny, inspection and enhancement of existing homes.

“It is also clear that the Government must properly investigate the ever-emerging trend of elder abuse within the state’s nursing homes.  With the population getting older it is imperative that the Government re-installs a sense of confidence within society so that when a family can no longer look after their elderly relatives they can put them into care in full confidence that they will be looked after with the greatest of care and dignity.

“I would echo the call made by Maurice O’Connell for the Department of Health to launch an awareness campaign targeting GP’s, healthcare professionals, geriatricians, pharmacists and care workers to alert them to the potential risks and effects of antipsychotic medication on elderly nursing home residents with dementia.  I am calling on the Minister for health Mary Harney to initiate such a campaign.” ENDS

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