STOMP it out!

Is your patient one of the 35,000 being given psychotropic medication inappropriately, asks Jenny Tinkler.

Using psychotropic medication to manage mental health disorders and challenging behaviour in people with intellectual disabilities came under the spotlight in the 2015 Transforming Care Programme.

This represented the government’s response to the events at Winterbourne View, which prompted ‘deep concerns’ about the over-use of antipsychotic and antidepressant medicines in people with learning disabilities and or autism.

In 2016, following a pledge by a number of different professional groups to bring an end to ‘inappropriate practices’, NHS England launched the Stopping Over Medication of People with a learning disability, autism or both campaign, known as STOMP.

This three-year project aims to raise awareness and reduce over use of psychotropic medicines.

In 2015, Public Health England estimated that, every day, about 35,000 people with learning disabilities or autism are prescribed psychotropic medicines when they do not have a diagnosed mental health condition.

These drugs are often given to manage behaviour that is seen as challenging and includes medicines used to treat psychosis, depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. It also includes epilepsy medication when it is only used for its calming effect, rather than to treat epilepsy. 

STOMP is about making sure people get the right medicine if they need it. It is about encouraging people to have regular medication reviews, supporting health professionals to involve people in decisions and showing how families and social care providers can be involved.

STOMP also aims to improve awareness of non-drug therapies and practical ways of supporting people whose behaviour is seen as challenging. 

The CSP, along with other allied health professional governing bodies and the Learning Disability Professional Senate, endorses the STOMP campaign. Every professional should challenge medication-related side-effects that impede the potential for rehabilitation among people with a learning disability and or autism. 

Physiotherapists need to be aware of the psychotropic medication their patients are taking. The CSP, through the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists for People with Learning Disabilities will raise awareness of the STOMP campaign among its members.

See the NHS England website which raises awareness of the impact that the secondary side-effects of over-medication can have when delivering physiotherapy promote opportunities to engage in physical activities and the role physical activity has on improving health and wellbeing and quality of life encourage physiotherapists to work with the multidisciplinary team in supporting the reduction of medication 

  • Dr Jenny Tinkler chairs the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists for People with Learning Disabilities 

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