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Focused Intervention Training and Support (FITS)

Alzheimer's Society is rolling out an evidence based training programme for care home staff to reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs in people with dementia. The programme is being rolled out to 150 care homes with the support of the Department of Health, the University of Worcester and HC-One care homes.

Antipsychotic drugs

Orange tabletsMany people with dementia develop behavioural and psychological symptoms. These symptoms can be a result of the care a person is receiving, their environment and social interactions. Antipsychotics are a group of medications that are commonly used to treat these symptoms in people with dementia.

In some cases, these drugs can have a short term beneficial effect. However, they can result in serious side effects including sedation, reduced mobility, falls, worsening of dementia symptoms and increased risk of stroke and death.

The Department of Health reviewed the use of antipsychotic drugs for people with dementia and concluded that two-thirds of prescriptions are inappropriate; the government has made a commitment to substantially reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs in people with dementia in the UK.

FITS training programme

Alzheimer's Society has developed the 'Focused Intervention Training and Support' (FITS), an evidence-based training programme designed for care home staff. The programme aims to train staff to deliver person-centred care to help safely manage behavioural symptoms as an alternative to using medication.

A research study previously funded by the Society was designed to test whether the FITS programme could reduce the need for people to be treated with antipsychotic drugs. The study was carried out over a period of nine months across 12 care homes.

The programme was shown to successfully reduce the use of antipsychotics by almost 50% in comparison to usual care, without worsening behavioural symptoms.

National rollout 

150 care homes across the UK will receive this training programme from the University of Worcester's Association for Dementia Studies, which has been commissioned by Alzheimer's Society.

With two-thirds of people in care homes having dementia, it is estimated that the training programme could reach and benefit 5,000 people with dementia while also protecting those in the future.

Care home staff will receive 10 days of training to increase their awareness and understanding of dementia, how to deliver person-centred care and manage behavioural symptoms. Additionally, staff will receive regular supervision sessions to ensure they are confident to implement the skills they have learnt in their daily work and pass their knowledge and practice on to others around them.

There is strong evidence that this non-drugs-based intervention will reduce the inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs and improve health outcomes, so helping to enable people to live well with dementia.

Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS)

A range of outcome measures will be used to asses the impact of the training programme. One of these measures will be Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS).

Alzheimer's Society has developed a user friendly, online platform for GAS. This tool enables people living with dementia to set their own personal goals. With this approach, progress can be monitored according to what is directly important to each individual.

The online GAS tool will be a standalone tool for measuring progress in future trials and field-testing. This will provide an important source of evidence to support policy and service development.

For more information please contact research@alzheimers.org.uk

Find out what Paul Burstow, Minister of State for Care Services, and others have to say about FITS in Alzheimer's Society's news story.

Antipsychotic drugs

Find out more about the Society's campaign to reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs in care

Caring for a person with dementia

Information for carers, family and friends about various aspects of caring for a person with dementia.


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