The use of anti-psychotic and other psychotropic medication in a specialist community service for adults with learning disabilities
Clare ICH., Wade KA., Bolton S., Wagner AP., Steven T., Holland AJ.
© Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which, in the five integrated community teams for adults with learning disabilities (CTLDs) in an English county-wide service, the use of psychotropic medication for service users was based on the presence of an appropriate mental health condition or epilepsy. Design/methodology/approach - Adult participants were recruited following referral to one of the CTLDs for assessment, treatment and/or support of a possible mental health and/or behavioural need. Data were collected about participant characteristics and psychotropic medication 12 months after recruitment. Findings - While a total of 42 (78 per cent) of the 54 participants were apparently prescribed regular or PRN (as required) psychotropic medication, only 24 (57 per cent) of these individuals had a recorded past or current mental health condition or epilepsy for which such medicine could be appropriate. Research limitations/implications - There were several limitations: the sample size was small and its representativeness was uncertain; and data collection was compromised by barriers to explicit knowledge exchange within and across the learning disability service. Practical implications - While recent guidance about the use of psychotropic medication is welcome, minimising inappropriate use requires more comprehensive person-centred interventions (including crisis management plans), underpinned by imaginative, but feasible, data collection methods and integrated formulations. Investment is needed in developments that support multi-disciplinary and inter-agency working to promote “good practice” by CTLDs in responding to referrals for possible mental health and/or behavioural needs. Originality/value - Complementing recent large studies of primary care (General Practitioner) records, this is the first examination of the use of psychotropic medication by service users in English CTLDs.