Restraints use reduced

PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 16:00 22/11/2011

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Rest homes are moving away from restraining their residents, a health manager says following a coroner's report into the death of a woman who slipped out of a restraint at a Blenheim rest home.

Coroner Carla na Nagara ruled that 96-year-old Gertrude Slape died of a head injury suffered after falling out of the lap belt that held her, while a nurse was attending to an emergency situation elsewhere in the rest home.

Ms na Nagara said a loose bodice-type restraint might have held the small-framed woman more securely than a lap belt and recommended that the rest home should have a clear and demonstrable decision-making process on restraints.

Details identifying the rest home and the staff involved were suppressed.

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board health of older people service manager Pete Carter said he had noted a move away from the use of any kind of restraint in rest homes, but there were times when there was no alternative.

When a person was agitated and prone to falls, restraint like a lap belt or side-bars on a bed might keep them safe.

The "loose bodice" suggested by Ms na Nagara was a shoulder harness. It was not as widely used as a lap belt but was an option, Mr Carter said. All rest homes were required to have "a real and demonstrable decision-making process on restraints" under the Health and Disability Services (Safety) Act 2001 and contracts with the district health board, he added.

Redwood Lifestyle Care and Village manager Wendy Nicholson said the use of restraints was never taken lightly. Redwood Lifestyle Care and Village residents were restrained only when a GP, in consultation with the family and registered nurse, recommended it. The person being restrained, or whoever held power of attorney, had to sign a consent form.

"There is a trend away from restraint. We do not use it unless for the person's safety," Mrs Nicholson said. She was aware of the harness-type restraint which the coroner said would have held Mrs Slape more securely, but these were not used at rest home she managed.

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- The Marlborough Express

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