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Anticholinergic burden: the unintended consequences for older people

Posted Tuesday 07 December 2021 | NPS MedicineWise

The outcomes of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety highlighted the relevance of medicines issues related to older Australians, who are more likely to be prescribed multiple medicines. Many of these medicines can have unintended anticholinergic effects, causing falls, confusion and cognitive decline, as well as dry mouth, constipation, and urinary retention.

A new educational visiting program has been developed to address this problem. The program will also support Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) with implementing quality improvement activities that can assist with the mandatory reporting of aged-care quality indicators for falls and injuries, and medication management.

This free educational program aims to improve health outcomes for older Australians by supporting the safe and appropriate use of medicines that contribute to anticholinergic and sedative burden, and the risk of falls, confusion, and other adverse effects.

Residential aged care providers are invited to participate in a facilitated education program which is open to registered nurses or staff involved with medication management, including clinical managers and QUM/RMMR pharmacists.

The program includes:

  • a one-hour education session, which can be face-to-face or virtual, run by the NPS MedicineWise educational visiting service (CPD-accredited for nurses)
  • a toolkit with a range of resources focusing on ways to incorporate assessment, review, and deprescribing of medicines that contribute to anticholinergic and sedative burden, into a facility’s workflow
  • resources to help strengthen the clinical governance process through Medication Advisory Committees
  • optional regular Q&A meetings to provide support and assistance with implementing the toolkit and resources within a facility.
Last updated: Tuesday 23 November 2021