Dementia, medication and transitions of care

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Persons with dementia (PWD) often have complex medication regimens and are at risk of medication problems during the multiple transitions of care experienced as the condition progresses.


To explore medication processes in acute care episodes and care transitions for PWD and to make recommendations to improve practice.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted by two pharmacy researchers from a focused purposive sample of fifty-one participants (carers, health professionals, Alzheimer's Australia staff) from urban and rural Australia. After written consent, the interviews were audio-recorded then transcribed verbatim for face-to-face interviews, or notes were taken during the interview if conducted by telephone. The transcripts were checked for accuracy by the pharmacy researchers. Thematic analysis of the data was undertaken independently by the two researchers to reduce bias and any disagreements were resolved by discussion.


Themes identified were: medication reconciliation; no modified planning for care transitions; underutilization of information technology; multiple prescribers; residential aged care facilities; and medication reviews by pharmacists. Sub themes were: access to appropriate staff; identification of dementia; dose administration aids; and staff training.


Medication management is sub-optimal for PWD during care transitions and may compromise safety. Suggested improvements included: increased involvement of pharmacists in care transitions; outreach or transitional health care professionals; modified planning for care transitions for individuals over 80 years; co-ordinated electronic records; structured communication; and staff training.

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