Informed Consent in Long-term Care Facilities

Residents in long-term care facilities often have conditions that require treatment with psychotropic medications. Informed consent ensures the resident is aware of the facts about the medication before they make the decision to take the medication. To obtain informed consent, staff must communicate:

  1. Why the medication is being prescribed
  2. Potential risks and side-effects of the medication
  3. Potential risks of not using the medication
  4. Expected benefits of the medication, and
  5. Alternatives to psychotropic medicine

Once the resident understands what is happening, staff can obtain permission from the resident in the form of a signed and dated consent document.

It is important that staff not intentionally hide or mischaracterize any of the facts about the intervention or try to coerce the resident into giving consent. Also, consent should only be obtained at a time when the resident can understand what is being asked of them.

Any resident prescribed psychotropic medicine that is regulated by the FDA must give consent before the intervention can begin. Sometimes a resident may not be able to give consent. For example, a patient may be unresponsive due to a medical condition or unable to cognitively process the risks of the medicine. In these cases, consent may be obtained from the resident’s representative.

This information is an excerpt from Psychotropic Medications and Social Service Staff a course on SSD Online Training by Jody Giac that will be available this summer.

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