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Minimizing the Use of Restraints in Nursing Homes

Our Illinois nursing home attorneys understand that helping seniors in these long-term care facilities includes eliminating intentional abuse, ensuring negligent care is curbed, and improving the overall quality of life of residents. There are many different ways of improving the lives of seniors-much of it has to do with changing the culture at these homes so that well-being and basic standards of comfort and freedom are maximized. Obviously, safety concerns have to be balanced, but that does not mean that homes should not give significant weight to ensuring senior residents are not only kept safe but allowed to thrive.

Unfortunately, nursing home neglect attorneys understand that we still have a long way to go before properly balancing these safety and well-being concerns.

For example, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News reported this week on new reform efforts that seek to cut the use of physical restraints in nursing homes. Many local residents don’t realize the many facilities still use actual physical restraints to hold seniors with certain issues in place. It is hard to imagine anything less conducive to improving overall well-being than actually forcing residents into place with straps and other equipment. These actually physical restraints are not to be confused with “chemical restraints” which are a different hot-button topic. Chemical restraints refer to the overuse of antipsychotic medication to place residents in a lethargic, less active state so that they are easier for caregivers to manage.

Recent research into actual physical restraint use shows that steps can be taken by nursing home caregivers which may allow those residents to gain more mobility. Each Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer at our firm hopes that local facilities take heed of this new research in order to improve the lives of local residents.

The Study
The research was published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. In short, the research found that certain intervention programs were successful at allowing facilities to lower their dependence on physical restraints. The interventions involved the use of group training sessions as well as supportive materials for all those in the senior’s life-staff members, relatives, and other residents.

The research included analysis of trials at thirty six different nursing homes in different cities over a six month period. This was not an observational study. On the contrary, researchers created a controlled test where certain interventions were used in some locations and not in others. Confounding factors were controlled so that the comparison between the two groups could lead to reliable information about whether the interventions were successful in lowering dependence on physical restraints.

In the intervention group, nurses were trained in the “best practices” to deal with resident problems without physical restraint. Others received similar training in order to help the resident act in such a way that the restraints were unnecessary.

At the end of the effort, there was a significant decrease in the need for those in the control group to rely on physical restraints. This indicates that the interventions were somewhat successful in meeting their goal of eliminating some restraint-use.

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