Dementia patients 'could have been given anti-psychotics unnecessarily'

Another incident saw a dementia patient transported to a care home in scrubs.

Dementia ward at Glen O’ Dee in Banchory under Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland probe iStock

A watchdog has raised concerns about an Aberdeenshire hospital after records showed that some patients with dementia may have been given anti-psychotic drugs unnecessarily.

The Mental Health Welfare Commission for Scotland (MWCS) launched an investigation into Glen O’ Dee hospital following reports that a dementia patient was earlier also transported to a care home in scrubs.

It later emerged the patient had no clean clothes, and the commission believes there was a “failure to protect the patient’s dignity”.

The incidents in question happened at the hospital’s Scolty Ward, and emerged during an announced visit earlier this year.

Nursing staff at the dementia assessment unit maintained quick guides to manage stress behaviours in their notes, however, they were found to be quite generic.

MWCS’s report read: “Many care plans recorded the use of non-medical strategies to support patients, but these were not specified in the care plan.

“Interventions such as ’use distraction techniques’ were mentioned to support the patient, but there were no “descriptions of what these actually were, nor identifying the triggers that were causing the patients distress.

Therefore we found that some patients were given psychotropic medication to reduce symptoms of stress and distress behaviours, rather than utilising non-medical interventions.”

The report also raised “significant concerns” over language used by staff in the patient notes, which it claimed did not support the stress/distress model of care delivered.

It stated: “The language used to describe patients was at times negative, pejorative and not patient centred, giving the impression that staff lacked in understanding of dementia-related illnesses.

“Given that there is an auditing programme in place, it was concerning to see the negative language used by staff had not been identified and addressed during the monthly audits.”

Glen O’ Dee’s management was given seven recommendations by the MWCS, in order to improve the level of care and safety being provided to vulnerable patients.

A spokesperson for the Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership, said: “The report we have received from the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland is not as positive as we would have wished.

“All concerns and recommendations within the report are being proactively addressed.

“We have been supporting the highly skilled team at Scolty and working closely with our specialist mental health nursing team and as a result we have a robust and transformational action plan in place.”

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