New regulations for the use of restraints in residential aged care facilities

11 Apr 2019

New regulations that aim to reduce the inappropriate use of restraints in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) will come into effect on 1 July 2019.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care and Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt stated in his announcement that “we will not tolerate the use of physical and chemical restraints. Restraint must only be used as a last resort”.

Aged care providers must now meet several conditions before a restraint can be used on a resident.

Broadly, actions required before a physical restraint can be used include assessment by a health practitioner (i.e. a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, or registered nurse) who knows the resident, alternatives to restraint have been considered or used and documented, and that the provider has informed consent from the resident or their representative. Restraints can still be used in an emergency, however this must be documented as soon as practicable, and the resident’s representative should be notified. The restraint must be used for the minimal amount of time necessary, and the resident must be regularly monitored.

Actions required before a chemical restraint is administered include assessment and documentation by a medical or nurse practitioner who has prescribed the chemical restraint and has concluded the restraint is required. The resident’s representative must be informed before the restraint has been administered, or as soon as practicable. The resident must be regularly monitored, and the practitioner must be provided with updates regarding the use of the restraint.

You can view the new regulations in more detail under the Quality of Care Principles 2014 amendment here.

The AMA’s position statement on Restraint in the care of people in residential aged care facilities 2015 is available here.