Nursing Homes Participate in Behavioral Program

LONGMEADOW — Two Western Mass. nursing homes, Julian J. Leavitt Family Jewish Nursing Home in Longmeadow and Kimball Farms Nursing Care in Lenox, have been chosen along with nine other nursing homes in Massachusetts to participate in a pilot program aimed at reducing the use of antipsychotic medication to control behavior issues in the elderly.

The program, titled OASIS, is being conducted through the Massachusetts Senior Care Foundation and funded by the Commonwealth Corp. through a special grant.

In 2009, 22{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of Massachusetts nursing home residents who received antipsychotic medications did not have a diagnosis that met the intended use of those drugs. Over the last year, nursing homes with a successful record of avoiding overuse of these medications were chosen to participate in the program aimed at helping other nursing homes receive better education in dealing with aggressive behaviors without resorting to medication.

The OASIS curriculum focuses on helping nursing home staff better recognize, understand, and meet residents’ needs and wants without resorting to medications to sedate them. Last summer, the project kicked off with an all-day training session in Westborough, Mass.

“We are very excited to have this opportunity to participate in this important study,” said Bob Petroff, executive vice president of Julian J. Leavitt Family Jewish Nursing Home. “We are particularly interested in being part of a structured pilot effort to quantitatively conduct focused research while building on our efforts to date of identifying and implementing alternative approaches in effectively dealing with difficult behaviors without resorting to the sedative effects of antipsychotics.”

Some of the approaches being investigated are more intensive patient intake information, adjustments to patient schedules to establish greater consistency, and alternative approaches such as music and massage.

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