Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Restraint increases by 50 percent

An alarming rise in the use of restraint against people with learning disabilities has been called ‘one of the biggest domestic human rights issues of our time’ by charity Mencap.

Restraints on adults with learning disabilities rose from 15,000 in 2016 to more than 22,000 in 2017.

Face down or prone restraints – banned under government guidelines – have increased from 2,200 incidents in 2016 to 3,100 in 2017.

Norman Lamb MP, who introduced guidelines as social care minister to reduce the use of force in hospitals in 2014, said the use of face down restraint was “absolutely shocking” and “extraordinarily demeaning.”

“The bottom line is that I had wanted to see and expected to see a substantial decline in the use of restraint and that hasn’t happened.

“I think that’s really shameful when we know that it’s possible in very many cases to avoid the use of restraint at all through a more sophisticated approach to people in inpatient settings.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care Spokesperson said any kind of restraint should only be used as a last resort and that it was working to reduce restrictive interventions and improve patient safety through improved monitoring and training.

It added that people with learning disabilities and autism deserve the best support and care.

Figures compiled by NHS Digital showed patient-on-patient assaults in England almost trebled from 3,600 to more than 9,000 between 2016 and 2017.

The Department of Health and Social Care said it is committed to the Transforming Care programme, despite the number of people living in hospital settings only decreasing from 2,600 to 2,400, and will continue it beyond March 2019.

It says since 2015, there have been around 5,500 discharges into the community and over 410 inpatient beds decommissioned.

The Local Government Association said that adult social care services face a £3.5bn funding gap by 2025: “For people to receive effective and safe support, social care need to be financially sustainable.”

Authorities in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland said it was not possible for them to provide fully comparative data.

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