After attention was drawn to the use of chemical and physical methods of restraint in aged care homes this week, it has been revealed that such measures will now be more heavily regulated.
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt announced on Friday that the over-use of physical and chemical restraint will no longer be authorised following an 18-month investigation, with regulations surrounding the issue set to be changed within weeks.
“Incidents of over use of physical and chemical restraint will not be tolerated and draft changes to regulations are expected to be released within weeks, ” Wyatt said in a statement.
The federal clampdown also follows a shocking report by the ABC’s 7.30 program earlier this week which revealed how an elderly man with dementia had been left strapped to a chair for 14 hours in a single day.
Terry Reeves’ concerned daughter Michelle McCulla contacted the public service broadcaster after discovering that her 72-year-old dad was regularly strapped to his chair at a nursing home in Sydney’s west.
“They said that he had gotten aggressive with another male nurse,” she told the ABC. “By being aggressive he was yelling and they felt the need that they had to then restrain him in his chair. He was left in a room by himself, tied into a chair.”
Wyatt added that the government’s new Aged Care Quality Standards – which will come into full force on July 1 – will also lay out best-practice care to minimise the use of chemical and physical restraint.
“Managing and minimising restraint is already a top priority for the Chief Clinical Adviser at the new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission,” Wyatt said. “Our Government’s new Aged Care Quality Standards are the first upgrade of standards in 20 years”
While physical restraint will be cut back, the changes will also stipulate that use of antipsychotic medicines must be a clinical decision made by medical practitioners with the care recipient, and their carer or family involved at all times.
The announcement came ahead of the opening hearing of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety which took place on Friday morning in Adelaide.
Speaking at the preliminary hearing, which was held in Adelaide’s Commonwealth Law Court, the two royal commissioners confirmed that they will do everything they can to ensure elderly, frail and vulnerable Australians receive the best possible care now and in the future.
“The hallmark of civilised society is how they treat the most vulnerable people,” Commissioner Tracey said. “Frail and elderly members of the community deserve to, and should, be looked after in the best possible way and we intend to do our best to see that it happens.”
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