Jul 04, 2019

New tool positive step in helping operators tackle chemical restraint

A new self-assessment tool to help operators reduce the use of psychotropic medications in aged care facilities has been well received by the industry, and there are hopes more similar tools will be rolled out in the future.

Chemical restraint is a hot-button topic in aged care at the moment, following shocking revelations both in the media and from the royal commission, so this positive development to help operators manage and reduce the use of psychotropic medications comes as welcome news.

“The best thing they’ve done for us in 30 years”

When HelloCare spoke to Anton Hutchinson, the owner and operator of Canberra Nursing Home, last week he told us the new self-assessment tool, which was developed by the Aged Quality and Safety Commission, is extremely “helpful”.

It’s “the best thing they (the regulator) have done for us in 30 years”, he said.

Mr Hutchinson said his staff told him the tool’s been incredibly helpful, and “made them smile”.

Mr Hutchinson also believes that having consistent paperwork right across the industry means that all operators will be measured “on the same yardstick”.

“It’s a great sign, I’d love to think they were going to continue with other areas,” he told HelloCare.

An opportunity to engage with pharmacists

Dr Juanita Breen (formerly Westbury), who trained as a pharmacist and is now senior lecturer at the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, told HelloCare she was “pleasantly surprised” by the tool.

“I think it’s really good,” she said. “It’s comprehensive, and a systematic approach.”

However, she questioned if the staff called upon to use the form would understand some of the terminology.

Dr Breen suggested that when using the tool, operators call on the services of pharmacists, which they can receive funding to do under the Quality Use of Medicines program.

Dr Breen suggested the tool could be automated to make it more efficient, and would also provide the opportunity to use the data to map the use of psychotropics in aged care.

Watch this space for similar developments

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has told HelloCare that more of these types of resources to help operators are in the pipeline, and operators should keep an eye on the Commission’s website for their release.

A spokesperson from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission told HelloCare the self assessment tool is designed to help providers comply with the new regulations around the use of chemical and physical restraints in aged care, which became effective on 1 July 2019.

“To assist residential aged care services to meet these new requirements, the Commission recently wrote to service providers to underscore the importance of the new regulation and provide an online tool, the ‘Self-Assessment Tool for Recording Consumers Receiving Psychotropic Medications’.”

The tool is aimed at helping operators “identify and review the management of any consumers who are currently restrained”.

The spokesperson said the tool can be used by aged care providers to collect the information the Commission will seek during an assessment.

The tool also enables a service to “self-assess” their compliance with the new requirements, with the aim of “minimising the use of chemical restraints”. 

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