Senior Care Providers Partner with CMS to Improve Nursing Home Dementia Care

Senior care providers are lining up to partner with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in its newly-announced initiative to improve dementia care in nursing homes.

LeadingAge, a trade group representing nonprofit senior care organizations, for-profit nursing home trade group the American Health Care Association (AHCA), and others involved in the nursing home industry will work with CMS toward a goal of reducing the use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes by 15% by the end of 2012. 

One challenge to providing appropriate dementia care is the unnecessary use of antipsychotic drugs, which happened in more than 17% of nursing home patients whose daily doses exceeded recommended levels in 2010, according to CMS data. An even greater number of dementia patients in nursing homes were administered various doses of these drugs, even if they weren’t diagnosed as psychotic. 


“A CMS nursing home resident report found that almost 40% of nursing home patients with signs of dementia were receiving antipsychotic drugs at some point in 2010, even though there was no diagnosis of psychosis,” said CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director of Clinical Standards and Quality Patrick Conway, M.D.  “Managing dementia without relying on medication can help improve the quality of life for these residents.  The Partnership to Improve Dementia Care will equip residents, caregivers, and providers with the best tools to make the right decision.”

CMS, along with its industry and advocacy partners, will take a three-pronged approach in achieving its goal, through:

  • Enhancing training by emphasizing person-centered care, abuse prevention, and high quality care;
  • Increasing transparency by making each nursing home’s antipsychotic drug use available on Nursing Home Compare starting this July;
  • Introducing alternatives to antipsychotic medication, including potential options of consistent staff assignments, increased exercise or outdoor times, monitoring and managing acute and chronic pain, and planning individualized activities. 

“The long-term solution for reducing antipsychotic use in nursing homes will come from a sustained campaign that teaches caregivers how to provide real person-centered care alternatives,” said LeadingAge’s Cheryl Phillips, M.D., senior vice president for advocacy and policy. “Medications are used often as the first intervention because family members, caregivers, nurses and doctors in ALL settings lack information or training regarding alternatives.”


Providers are up to CMS’s challenge of reducing antipsychotic drug usage by 15% this year, says AHCA, as it’s a goal the trade group’s members set for itself earlier in the year. 

“Through this partnership, AHCA and skilled nursing centers across the country have a confirmed commitment, additional assistance and a common cause to better serve our residents who are living with dementia,” the group said in a statement. 

Written by Alyssa Gerace

Companies featured in this article:

, ,