Enhancing Stability: Long-Acting Schizophrenia Treatments in Long-Term Care Facilities

Like many chronic conditions, treatment for schizophrenia is regularly evolving thanks to innovation and evidence-based practices. The prevailing therapy regimen for schizophrenia treatments combines antipsychotic medications with cognitive behavioral therapy, in addition to condition-specific elements such as long-term care facilities, community housing, social skills training and peer support groups. 

Patients living with schizophrenia have options and support when it comes to managing their mental illness. However, it’s the consistency of managing that illness that often gets in the way, setting off what could be catastrophic setbacks.

Medication adherence is critical for those living with any chronic condition, to avoid complications and potential hospitalizations, but it is of particular importance for those living with schizophrenia. The National Institutes of Health reports that medication non-adherence among those living with schizophrenia can be as high as 50%. And, among those who responded well to treatment while in an in-patient facility, almost three-quarters became non-compliant with their regimen within two years. 

That predictable irregularity when it comes to medication adherence is one reason that long-acting schizophrenia treatments are attractive when stability is the goal.

Antipsychotics used to treat schizophrenia alter brain chemistry as a means of reducing common symptoms associated with the illness, particularly hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking. In most cases, antipsychotic medication is taken daily. But, long-acting versions of antipsychotic medications don’t have to be.

And, because those long-acting treatments for schizophrenia need to be administered by a qualified provider — and not the patient — they make sense for patients living in long-term care facilities. 

Long-acting antipsychotics are administered by injection at regular intervals. Sometimes it’s every few weeks, sometimes it’s every few months. Some medications only need to be injected quarterly. Their long-acting formulations release in the body over time, replacing the need to remember a daily dose of pills, and ultimately improving medication adherence. 

An injectable approach that has staying power over time also removes the option for a patient to consciously decide they don’t need their medicine or don’t want to take it. Once the medication begins to work, and symptoms subside, it’s easy for someone living with schizophrenia to believe they no longer need the treatment. With an injectable, it’s already doing its work behind the scenes, regardless of how a person may feel about it on a day to day basis. 

Data indicates that medication adherence for long-acting injectable antipsychotics is nearly 10% better, and patients were 20% less likely to discontinue their medication regimen. And, when patients adhere to their prescribed pharmacological protocol, their illness is more manageable which leads to better overall outcomes. 

Injectable long-acting antipsychotics can help patients achieve more consistent stability, which ultimately allows them to live a more fulfilled life, with fewer ups and downs that come with medication inconsistency. 

Is your facility interested in learning more about the benefits of long-acting antipsychotic medications? Reach out to our team to discuss your options!

At UnitedRx, we deliver a hometown pharmacy experience to more than 400 clients across the country. Contact us to learn more about how our approach to treatment can meet the pharmacy needs of your long-term care facility.