The Daily Mail is reporting that Security guards are being called in to restrain dementia patients in hospitals up to three times a week.
The Mail used Freedom of Information requests to ask all 160 NHS hospital trusts in England how many times security were called to restrain patients in 2012/13 and 2013/14.
Of the 42 trusts that admitted using security staff to deal with patients, 17 admitted calling security to control those with dementia.
Others used security staff to restrain patients who were under the influence of alcohol and drugs, or who had mental health or medical problems influencing their behaviour. Worryingly, 13 of the trusts that admitted using security guards to cope with patients did not routinely record why they had been called.
In total, security guards restrained hospital patients 5,722 times across the 42 trusts in two years – more than seven incidents a day. Of these, 320 were recorded as being dementia or Alzheimer’s patients.
One commentator noted:
“Until recently I worked in Nursing Care for the elderly & I wish we had been allowed to restrain violent dementia sufferers. Most carers who have worked on the job for 6 months have been punched, slapped & bitten on numerous occasions, yet we cannot touch the violent residents, let alone restrain them. If it looks like another resident will attacked we are supposed to stand in front of the intended victim and take the punishment ourselves. If anyone tried any form of restraint, which could include holding hands, they would lose their job instantly and be investigated. Yes, in many cases triggers can be discovered & ways found to divert attention away from whatever is causing the behaviour, but that takes time and knowing the person concerned (which nurses of short stay hospital patients don’t have), but dementia is not a rational illness and violent incidents are frequent. I fully agree that people with this awful illness need legal protection, but what about those who work with them?”
and another said:
“As you encourage healthy behaviours, ie, eating drinking washing ect.. They get angry, then strip naked while trying to escape out the door!!! All of which the CARER us judged for!! The worst illness in the world!! And the hardest patient to look after, but no one gives a damn about the battered and stressed carer who has no rights or value at all, and then to add insult to injury.. some relative will say……. Why has my mum/dad/nan not eaten today?”
Our online video introduction to “Safe Holding” training for care homes dealing with challenging behaviours for older people in care is available and recommended for those who want to learn more about the issues.
Gerard O’Dea is a conflict management, personal safety and physical interventions training consultant. He is the training director for Dynamis, a specialist provider of personal safety and violence management programmes and the European Adviser for ‘Verbal Defense and Influence’, a global programme which addresses the spectrum of human conflict. www.dynamis.training