Section C Medication has been suggested
What should be done before prescribing?
Before medication is prescribed, there are several checks that should be carried out in partnership with your relative and a professional. These checks are important to find out whether medication is the best option for your relative and so the effects of the medication can be measured accurately.
These checks include:
- Physical health check – This can rule out challenging behaviour as a response to physical pain or discomfort. For example, an increase in self injurious behaviour may be due to pain from an undiagnosed ear infection or dental pain. Baseline checks before medication may include blood pressure, weight, an ECG and blood tests, depending on which medication is being suggested. Baseline checks will ensure that any changes can be addressed promptly. Physical health checks are also important to monitor any side effects experienced if psychotropic medication is prescribed.
- Behaviour baseline recording – This can identify whether medication is making a positive or negative impact on behaviours. Depending on where the person lives, recording may be done using checklists, incident forms, daily notes and/or ABC charts. You can find a template ABC chart with examples of how to fill them in at the end of the Finding the Causes of Challenging Behaviour Information Sheet.
- A functional assessment – This can help identify the causes of challenging behaviour and think about how best to respond to the behaviour. You can find out more from the Finding the Causes of Challenging Behaviour Information Sheet. Medication should never be prescribed for challenging behaviour without looking into the underlying cause of the behaviour first.
- Quality of life measure – As well as physical health and behaviour, it is also important to measure the effect medication has on someone’s quality of life. One scale, which has been developed to measure quality of life for someone with a learning disability, is called MANS-LD. You can read more about it on the British Psychological Society’s website. When the quality of life measure is done again after the medication has been tried for a period, you will see whether the medication is making a difference to the person’s wellbeing.