Researchers call for more debate about use of restraints in aged care

If you’ve ever visited a nursing home or aged care facility, then chances are you’ve seen some of the physical restraints used – particularly for residents with dementia.

But statistics have come to light that are raising serious questions about whether the restraints are being used too often.

It turns out five aged care residents died between 2000 and 2013 from the restraints, according to a study by the Monash University.

Those who died choked, because their necks were compressed by the restraints – and four of the five residents had dementia.

The findings have led researchers to question the use of the restraints in aged care facilities.

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Professor Joseph Ibrahim, who heads up the Monash University’s ageing research unit, told the ABC there wasn’t debate about whether or not the restraints were an appropriate way to look after people with dementia.

“Do you want to be restrained when you’re 80 and have dementia, or would you rather be able to walk freely and if you fall you fall?,” he said.

“We’re not having those types of mature conversations and they’re the situations you’re more likely to end up in, rather than the conversation that we all get very caught up in around things like euthanasia, which affect very, very few people.”

And he’s highlighted the need for more information to be available about how aged care facilities use the restraints.

“We think it’s still a relatively uncommon practice, but I’m not aware of anywhere, that as a member of the public or as a researcher, we’re able to access that information,” he said.

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So you might be thinking that five deaths over 13 years isn’t many?

Well, according to the head of Alzheimer’s Australia, Graeme Samuel,  that doesn’t many there isn’t a problem with the use of restraints.


“It’s of no comfort to know that as someone who is aged, who is living with dementia, has been subjected to physical restraint of any form whatsoever,” he told the ABC.

“Physical restraint is needed only in the rarest of circumstances.”

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But what about the people who are actually being restrained?

How would you feel? What do you think about the use of restraints in nursing homes?