Section A Introduction
This resource is for family carers of someone with a learning disability, autism or both who are looking for information about psychotropic medication. The pathway focuses on how to make sure that your relative only takes medication that they need and that your relative is taking medication safely.
Section B Medication Facts and National Guidance
NHS England led a pledge in 2016 to stop over-medication, which is supported by many organisations in health and social care. This was intended as a ‘call to action’ and a commitment to reducing the levels of inappropriate psychotropic medication prescribed for people with a learning disability, autism or both.
Section C Medication has been suggested
Before medication is prescribed, there are several checks that should be carried out in partnership with your relative and a professional.
Medication should not be the only option considered in response to challenging behaviour and should only be used if alternative strategies have not reduced the behaviour.
Section D Challenging the decision to prescribe medication
When a health professional suggests that psychotropic medication should be prescribed, family carers have the right to object if they do not agree it is the best option for their family member. These rights depend on the age of the individual with a learning disability, autism or both and whether they have the capacity to make the decision for themselves.
Section E When medication is being started
Once someone has started to take psychotropic medication, the doctor should help you to look for any side effects to the medication and to understand whether the medication is helping your relative. You should have an agreed date with your doctor to review the medication and discuss whether it is still the best option for your relative.
Section F Ongoing use of medication: monitoring and reviewing
If there are concerns that the medication is not benefitting your relative or if they are experiencing negative effects, the prescriber should consider reducing or stopping the medication.
Medication should be reduced gradually, at a rate appropriate for the person and under the supervision of the prescriber or other medical professional with the expertise in this area of treatment.
Section G Getting it right
Whether alongside medication or in place of it, it is essential that person-centred, proactive strategies are used to support your relative to live a fulfilling and rewarding life. ‘Getting it right’ means something different for everyone, so you will have to find out how your relative can be best supported.