Watch Dogs implement measures to stop inappropriate use of restraint, but campaigners call for further progress

    Leading charities express concern and frustration over the number of young people still subject to abusive practices

      • Sector News
    • 19.04.21

    The Restraint Reduction Network (RRN) has called for legislation that prohibits the unnecessary use of restrictive practise to be implemented “urgently” after a tribunal in Scotland found that the restraint of a young woman amounted to unlawful discrimination.

    In what is the first case of its kind in Scotland, the Health and Education Chamber ruled that staff at a residential school had used restraint numerous times against a young, vulnerable autistic female diagnosed with ADHD and a learning disability in a way that was unlawful. 

    The RRN said that while they were “heartened” that the tribunal case had set a precedent for future rulings, “much still needed to be done” in order for the harmful practice, which breaches human rights, to be outlawed. 

    In agreement, Beth Morrison from Positive and Active Behaviour Support Scotland, said: “For too long, we have been calling for ‘reduction’ and it’s not working. By asking for a ‘reduction’ we appear to be saying that this manhandling is ok. Let’s be clear… it’s not restraint. It’s abuse”.

    The Care Quality Commission has also taken “urgent action” to keep children and young people safe at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford after receiving concerning information about the safety and treatment of children and young people with acute mental health needs or learning disabilities.

    Inspectors found that people admitted to the hospital did not receive adequate risk assessments on admission and there were no systems in place to ensure restrictive practices, such as restraint, were completed safely or appropriately.

    Following the inspection, the trust was told to make several urgent improvements, with training being highlighted as a key area. The overall rating for the services also went down from “requires improvement” to “inadequate”. 

    The national charity Mind has also called for the end of “humiliating and dehumanising” restraint practices in response to the inquest of Leon Briggs, who died in November 2013 after being detained at Luton police station under the Mental Health Act, while experiencing a mental health crisis.

    “It is time that these harmful practices, which breach human rights, disproportionately used on children and young people with learning disabilities, autistic people or both, are seen as discrimination, abuse and outlawed,” said the RRN. 

    Shropshire Star: Care watchdog monitoring Shropshire hospitals trust 'extremely closely' after taking further urgent action
    RRN: Tribunal decision finds the use of restraint at a residential school amounted to unlawful discrimination
    Mind: Mind responds to the inquest of Leon Briggs

    Maybo perspective

    • There are times in some settings when restrictive interventions are necessary to create safety, but too often we see these used out of habit and for staff convenience.
    • Gaps in skills and training are clear and staff need to better understand and respond to the behaviours and needs of those they support, thereby enhancing opportunities, choices and quality of life.
    • Maybo training starts with an understanding of human rights and recognising restrictive practices (it is surprising how many staff do not recognise practices that are restrictive). We then develop (trauma informed) practical skills for building positive relationships and reducing and managing behaviours of concern.
    • However, while training is important, we also need to remember that 'culture eats policy and training for breakfast', so clear leadership and active supervision is essential. Greater focus on supervisory skills and accountability is needed to deliver and maintain healthy cultures.

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