Stronger restraint regulations to protect senior Australians

The Federal Government has moved to significantly strengthen regulations applying to the use of physical and chemical restraints in aged care homes.

In January this year, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt said the government would not tolerate the use of physical and chemical restraints and restraints should only be used as a last resort.

Mr Wyatt said the regulatory changes he intended to sign into law next week set out specific provider responsibilities to apply from 1 July 2019.

“We have moved quickly, working with a group of key stakeholders to inform a regulatory approach to minimise the inappropriate use of restraints, treating chemical and physical restraints as separate issues,” Mr Wyatt said.

“I intend to amend the Quality of Care Principles 2014 and require providers to satisfy a number of conditions before restraint can be used, including assessment by an approved health practitioner (physical restraint) or assessment by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner who has prescribed the medication (chemical restraint).

“The aged care home must also have the informed consent of the consumer or their representative before using physical restraint, unless restraint is necessary in an emergency.

“In all cases of restraint, the home will also be required to document the alternative options to restraint that have been used. Any use of restraint must also be regularly monitored.”

Mr Wyatt said the new regulations regarding use of restraints supported the government’s broader reform agenda to ensure high quality aged care was always delivered and in all places.

From 1 July 2019, the new Aged Care Quality Standards would come into full force. The standards stipulated best-practice to ensure those receiving aged care received safe and effective personal and clinical care, tailored to their needs.

Service providers delivering clinical care would be required to have a clinical governance framework in place that minimised the use of all forms of restraint.

“We have equipped managers and staff in aged care facilities with tools and guidelines to achieve safe, high-quality care and practice safe management of medicines,” Mr Wyatt said.

“We will also mandate the collection of three quality indicators, including use of physical restraints as well as pressure injuries and unplanned weight loss, for all Commonwealth-subsidised residential aged care providers from 1 July 2019.

“Protecting our senior Australians, ensuring their safety, health, well-being and quality of life when they are receiving aged care, is a top priority.

“Our quality and safety reforms, alongside the work of the Royal Commission, will ensure senior Australians will be protected and treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

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