CISION (June 03) CFHI and Health PEI Join Forces to Improve Dementia Care

ST. JOHN'S, June 4, 2018 /CNW/ - The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) and Health PEI today announced that all publicly funded long term care homes will participate in an 18-month province-wide program to improve dementia care through the appropriate use of antipsychotic medications.

Approximately 1 in 5 Canadian residents in long term care is prescribed an antipsychotic medication without a diagnosis of psychosis. In Health PEI long term care homes, the rate of residents on an antipsychotic is 21.9 percent, which is consistent with the national average.

Antipsychotic medications are sometimes used to help manage behavioural symptoms associated with dementia, but they can be unsafe when prescribed inappropriately, causing harm to people living with dementia. 

The Quality of Life for Residents in Long Term Care: The Appropriate Use of Antipsychotics (AUA) Collaborative will help reduce the inappropriate use of antipsychotics and the associated risks such as worsening cognitive functioning, confusion, dizziness, sleepiness, stroke and falls. It will also improve the quality and experience of dementia care for residents, families and staff.

According to CFHI President Maureen O'Neil, the overuse of these medications is an issue across Canada – and around the world – but there is hope. "In 2016-17, about 22 percent of residents in Canadian long term care homes were on an antipsychotic without a diagnosis of psychosis, but just 5 years ago that rate was 32 percent," said Ms. O'Neil. "We're looking forward to seeing the results in PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador."

"We're very excited to be joining this important initiative, collaborating with our partners at the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, our long term care residents and their families," said Andrew MacDougall, Health PEI's director of long term care. "Though focused on promoting appropriate anti-psychotic medication usage, this project is about enhancing the quality of our residents' lives through holistic approaches to care. We are very much looking forward to realizing the many benefits this initiative has to offer."

PEI teams announced

CFHI is providing up to $13,500 in direct funding in addition to significant support to spread the AUA approach, including dedicated staff to manage activities, coaching and faculty support, an online resource hub with standardized education to support person centred AUA approaches and evaluation support. Health PEI is contributing $230,000.  

Provincial long term care homes will collaborate with 39 homes from Newfoundland and Labrador and five from the Seniors Quality Leap Initiative, a North American network of long term care organizations focused on improving clinical and safety for seniors through this initiative.

How the approach works

Since 2014, CFHI has supported over 140 long term care organizations from across Canada to improve the appropriate use of antipsychotic medication and the quality of life for residents through a pan-Canadian collaboration, as well as provice-wide scale up in New Brunswick and Quebec. This new program will build on their success.

CFHI will provide tailored learning and coaching to help interprofessional teams in long term care homes –nurses, personal care workers, physicians, pharmacists and administrators —to use data to identify patients who may benefit from non-drug therapies to treat behaviours related to dementia. Equipped with better information about each resident, direct care staff can then work with families to tailor services and provide personalized care, such as music and recreation therapy.

The AUA Approach has demonstrated success in long term care facilities:

  • The pan-Canadian AUA Collaborative, resulted in a 54 percent reduction in the inappropriate use of antipsychotics. Results showed significant reductions in socially inappropriate behaviour, resistance to care, and a 20 percent reduction in falls.
  • Phase 1 of the New Brunswick program saw a 43 percent reduction in the initial implementation phase and the number of falls decreased by one-third.
  • Residents who had their antipsychotics reduced or eliminated became more socially engaged, were better able to eat independently, and became more wakeful, improving the experience of care for staff and families.


Through this initiative, Health PEI is responding and improving the care and health of long term care residents with dementia while also promoting the sustainability of the provincial health system. This work also supports the shared federal-provincial-territorial priority of improving the affordability, accessibility and appropriate use of prescription drugs.   

For more information:




Send us your latest HHR related research, reports and publications to showcase through our pan-Canadian HHR Knowledge Exchange Platform.