SCIE media statement

Dementia and anti-psychotic medication

05 July 2011

Reducing prescriptions - providing alternative types of support

A new web tool looks at the over-use of anti-psychotic medication that is prescribed for people with dementia. It’s helpful for all involved in supporting people with dementia, so they can live with dignity. The web pages are run by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

SCIE, along with many others, agree that antipsychotic drugs are currently overprescribed. It is estimated that 180,000 people with dementia are affected. A substantial reduction in their use, together with the wider adoption of alternative types of support, will help maximise the quality of life for people with dementia and their carers.  

There are five clickable sections on the webpage, looking at the following areas:

SCIE's Director of Adult Services David Walden says:

Our joint guidelines with NICE state that people with dementia should only receive anti-psychotic medication when they really need it. This new web tool points staff in the right direction to reduce the use of anti-psychotics. The Dilnot Commission report is important, looking at social care funding in England. Equally important over the next few years will be building and maintaining quality services that provide dignity in care.

Case study – Des's decorating

SCIE also host the film "Minimising the use of restraint in care homes for older people: creative approaches". This Social Care TV film looks at how staff can reduce the use anti-psychotics. One resident, Des, is featured. Des would put furniture in the middle of the room and when staff tried to return it he would become agitated. He was given anti-psychotic drugs. However, staff discovered that he used to be a painter and decorator. Now, he is given a paintbrush and a roller, which he dips in water. He then re-enacts his time at work; he's calmer and now he is off his anti-psychotics.

Policy context

In June 2011, the Dementia Action Alliance launched a call to action on the use of antipsychotic drugs for people with dementia. They say that the inappropriate prescribing of antipsychotic medication can increase people’s symptoms of dementia and cause dizziness and unsteadiness, leading to falls and injuries and robbing people of their quality of life. It is estimated that over 20% of people with dementia, around 180,000 people, are currently being prescribed antipsychotic medication. SCIE is a member of the Dementia Action Alliance and has signed up to their call for action against the inappropriate use of antipsychotics. The Dilnot Commission on social care funding can be found here.

Media contact

Steve Palmer | Press and Public Affairs Manager | Tel: 020 7766 7419 | Mob: 07739 458 192 | Email: