Australia to Better Regulate Restraints in Nursing Homes

Australia to Better Regulate Restraints in Nursing Homes

An elderly woman experiencing restrains in nursing homes

Australia will introduce new regulations about sedating or restraining nursing home residents, The Guardian reported. 

According to MSN, three national reports in the last 18 months have recommended the government regulate the use of restraints. In September, the BBC reported that Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced an inquiry into residential and in-home aged care. Unlike in the U.S., Great Britain and Europe, there currently are no laws “governing the use of restraints in aged care facilities,” The Guardian noted in its article.

The new regulations also follow an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) investigation of the use of restraints in elder care facilities. In the first case, a 72-year-old nursing home resident was regularly strapped to a chair. On one of those occasions, he was restrained for 14 hours, the ABC revealed.  In the second case, a coroner in Victoria ruled that the death of a nursing home resident was caused in part by excessive doses of sedative Oxazepam, which led her to fall seven times, MSN reported. According to the ABC’s report, the resident had been in care for just nine weeks.

The Guardian reported Ken Wyatt, minister for senior Australians and aged care, told reporters in Perth “that is unacceptable in this day and age, and I’m not prepared to allow that to occur and nor is our government.”

According to Australia’s Department of Health, which released information about the new regulations through Wyatt’s office, a draft of changes to the regulations will be “released within weeks.” The new Aged Care Quality Standards will go into full effect on July 1, 2019; this will be the first upgrade to the standards in 20 years, the Department of Health’s news release stated.

“I just want to say to aged care providers: rethink your approach if you are using chemical and physical restraints,” Wyatt said in a quote published by The Australian, “consider the options that the Commonwealth have put into place previously, and work within those.”