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Australian Government Department of Health: Message to the Aged Care Sector

Minimising physical and chemical restraint in residential aged care

Restraint must only be used as a last resort.

The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP has announced new regulatory requirements to minimise the inappropriate use of physical and chemical restraints in aged care homes.

The Quality of Care Principles 2014 have been amended to reflect specific requirements that come into effect on 1 July 2019.

Only when providers have explored alternatives to restraint and satisfied a number of conditions, can either form of restraint be used. These conditions include:

  • assessment by an approved health practitioner (for physical restraint)
  • assessment by a medical or nurse practitioner  who has prescribed the medication (for chemical restraint).

The changes complement the Aged Care Quality Standards which also apply from 1 July 2019. The Standards strengthen the requirements for residential aged care service providers in relation to restraint, including that clinical care must be best practice and supported by a clinical governance framework that includes minimising the use of all forms of restraint.

The arrangements reflect elements of the Decision-Making Tool: Supporting a Restraint Free Environment in Residential Aged Care (revised in 2012).

More information about these arrangements and provider responsibilities will be available on the department’s website shortly.

Department of Health

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