Using clinical audit to improve the quality of mental health-care services for people with learning disabilities
Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities
Article publication date: 14 August 2021
Issue publication date: 8 September 2021
The over-reliance on psychotropic medication for the management of patients with learning disabilities with behaviour that challenges is well documented.This paper aims to discuss the application of the methodology of clinical audit within community learning disability mental health services to adapt interventions including optimising prescribing practice and behavioural interventions aiming to reduce behaviour that challenges in people with learning disabilities.
Questionnaire-based review of documentation in electronic patient records, covering relevant audit standards in line with NICE and Royal College of Psychiatrists, was carried out in the North Essex Community Learning Disability Service, Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. The audit included patients on the caseload of consultant psychiatrists.
The audit demonstrated that the prescribing of psychotropic medication was within BNF maximum limits for all patients, evidence of “consent” procedures was being followed in the majority, and there was some evidence of deprescribing attempts.Improvement was required in several areas e.g. undocumented off label prescribing in a significant proportion of patients. Objective measures to record the severity of behaviours and the effects of the medication were being used by clinicians in only a small proportion of patients. A significant proportion of patients have prescribed medication in the absence of appropriate psychological or environmental interventions.
As a result of the audit findings, the action plan made recommendations such as the development of a database for tracking the prescribing of psychotropic medicines and routine use of standardised measures. This action has been supported by the pharmacy team. Positive developments include a clinical psychologist taking on the role of leading the development of behavioural intervention strategies.
da Costa, E., Adams, D., Salmeh, M., Mahmoud, O. and Yetkili, E. (2021), "Using clinical audit to improve the quality of mental health-care services for people with learning disabilities", Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 105-118. https://doi.org/10.1108/AMHID-03-2020-0006
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