nursing staff

How Nursing Staff Can Manage Patients Who Refuse Medication

Nursing home personnel face numerous challenges during their day-to-day routines. Apart from the need to deliver the highest level of patient care, they often have to deal with patients who may be resistant to prescribed treatments and therapies. A common issue is how to administer medications to patients that are unwilling to take them.

Patients with dementia or those in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease can be especially resistant to treatment. Some may act hostile or suspicious toward their caregivers, particularly if they feel they are being forced to take their medications against their will. 

Why do some patients put up such resistance when being given their medicine? There are many reasons why older individuals become argumentative or even combative. Some may be afraid or confused about the procedure or the reasons for having to take the medication. Others may resent feeling that they no longer have control over their lives.   

Any issue that causes conflict with patients or disrupts the nurses’ routines could lead to claims of mistreatment or neglect. This is why all nursing care facilities need to have nursing home insurance. These insurance plans protect nursing home owners and staff from legal difficulties resulting from performing their duties.

But even with nursing home insurance, there remains the issue of managing patients that refuse to take their medications. Legal issues aside, these incidents could prevent residents from getting the medical care they need.

So how can nurses administer medicine to patients that resist? Just as importantly, how can caregivers do so without causing harm or undue distress?

Here are some suggestions that might make the task easier:

1. Administer medicines in a quiet setting

Patients are more likely to be receptive to medication and treatment in a calm and quiet environment. Nurses should try to reduce the noise in the vicinity and maintain a relaxed demeanor.

2. Check for unpleasant side effects

Some medications may make patients feel ill or uncomfortable. Caregivers should be aware of these symptoms and ask the primary care physician for alternatives or solutions for reducing discomfort.

3. Administer only essential medications

Some medications may no longer be necessary, especially if the patient has been taking them for a long time. Again, nurses could consult with primary care physicians to find out whether some medicines can be discontinued.

4. Explore easier alternatives to current medications

Patients may resist pills that are too large or difficult to swallow. Nurses could bring up the possibility of switching to liquid formulations or breaking up large tablets into smaller pieces.

5. Explain the process simply

Caregivers do have to explain the treatment or medication process to patients, but it is best to do so as simply as possible. It is generally best to avoid getting into long-drawn-out conversations and instead use simple language to encourage patients to take their medicine.

6. Be aware of potential triggers

Some patients may resist taking medications because something about them reminds them of unpleasant experiences in the past. It could be the sight of several pill bottles or even the process of administering medication. In any case, nurses should look into possible triggers and find ways to minimize or avoid them.

7. Establish camaraderie

Establishing camaraderie might be an effective method to take the stress and fear away during medicine time. Nurses that have to take their own medicine could do so at the same time as the patient.

8. Maintain a routine

Many patients are more receptive to medication if they are administered at the same time every day. Sticking to a routine could minimize arguments and resistance and make it easier to keep track of each patient’s schedule.

9. Offer a small reward or treat for taking medicine

Finally, nurses could consider offering patients a treat as a small reward or enticement for taking their medicine. This could be a piece of candy, a bit of chocolate, or anything that gives them a sense of satisfaction. Of course, treats should only be provided with the approval of the patient’s primary care physician.

Working in a nursing home can be challenging and even frustrating. But nurses can draw comfort and reassurance from the knowledge that they provide an essential service to patients who need their attention and assistance. Hopefully, the tips outlined above will make it easier for caregivers to give patients the quality of care they require.

About Caitlin Morgan

Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at (877) 226-1027.