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TDH Provides Training for Nursing Home Staff Members

Monday, December 03, 2012 | 07:18am

NASHVILLE -- The Tennessee Department of Health Office of Health Care Facilities is providing special training for every certified nursing home in Tennessee. TDH has received grant approval from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to expend more than $370,000 in federal civil monetary penalty funds collected from deficient nursing homes, and will use these funds to provide the training. This is the largest single CMP grant application approved by CMS Region 4 to date this year.

In the “Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes” initiative, released by CMS in May, a national goal was established to reduce antipsychotic drug use among nursing home residents by 15 percent by the end of 2012 and further reduce those rates in 2013. As Tennessee has the highest usage of antipsychotic medications in the Southeast Region at 30.1 percent for long-stay residents, with the national average being only 23.8 percent, the office sought these funds to provide training to assist nursing homes toward this effort. 

“This reduction is urgently needed due to current quality of life issues for the large number of nursing home residents living with some form of dementia who also receive antipsychotics,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “For these individuals, challenging behaviors are often an indicator of unmet needs when no other form of communication is available to them. Too often, antipsychotic medications are used in attempts to modify such behavior, in lieu of utilizing specific techniques that help identify the unmet need or needs.”

The CMS funding enables TDH, in partnership with the Tennessee Advancing Excellence Coalition, to provide three symposiums across the state focused on how to effectively reduce antipsychotic drug therapy, address the root cause of behaviors and improve quality of life for residents living with dementia. These training sessions will be facilitated by The Eden Alternative. The first session is taking place December 3-5, 2012 in Nashville. Sessions will be held in East and West Tennessee in early 2013.

“Antipsychotic drugs are expensive, costing hundreds of millions of Medicare and Medicaid dollars, and also increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, falls with fractures,hospitalizations and other complications resulting in poor health and high care costs,” said Vincent Davis, TDH director of Health Care Facilities. “By lowering the use of unnecessary antipsychotic medications, nursing home residents’ quality of life will improve while the cost of health care for these residents is reduced.”

The CMP grant will provide registrations for 749 attendees including nursing home direct care staff members, state surveyors and managers, State Long-Term Care Ombudsmen and members of the Tennessee Advancing Excellence Coalition. Every nursing home in the state has been notified of this training opportunity and provided with information on how to register.    

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit


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