Australia: Older People in Aged Care Drugged Up
Tuesday 15 October 2019
Embargoed for Release
Not for Publication Until:
00:01 in Canberra, Wednesday, October 16, 2019
13:01 GMT, October 15, 2019
(Canberra, October 16, 2019) – Many aged care facilities in Australia routinely give older people with dementia dangerous medicines to control their behavior, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 101-page report, “‘Fading Away’: How Aged Care Facilities in Australia Chemically Restrain Older People with Dementia,” found that instead of providing support to older people with dementia, facilities use drugs to control their behavior, a practice known as chemical restraint. Many of the drugs used to control people in aged care facilities are antipsychotics that are not approved in Australia for older people with dementia. In addition to the physical, social, and emotional harm for older people restrained with these drugs, the use of these drugs in older people with dementia is also associated with an increased risk of death.
The report is based on interviews with family members, doctors, nurses, and advocates, and documents the use of medications as chemical restraint in 35 aged care facilities in three states in Australia.
“When older people are silenced by drugs rather than given person-centered support, it risks their health and insults their humanity,” said Bethany Brown, researcher on older people’s human rights at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “Older people with dementia need an understanding helping hand, not a pill.”