Dutch carers told to stop tying up patients

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Care workers often tie patients without realising restraints can sometimes lead to mental and physical injury.

18 November 2008

THE NETHERLANDS - An official report published Tuesday says that seven people died in the Netherlands between June 2007 and May 2008 after being restrained by carers.

The Health Care Inspectorate (IGZ) carried out spot checks on 86 nursing and care homes after news of the seven deaths surfaced. It concludes mentally disabled residents and those suffering from dementia are often being sedated, locked in and even tied up.

Carers often resort to such measures to stop patients doing themselves harm, but the treatment can actually lead to mental and even physical injury.


The IGZ report, Care for Freedom, particularly criticises the use of 'Swedish restraints', used to tie patients to beds or chairs. The restraints are described as inhuman and not appropriate in the modern world. The report calls for them to be banned by 2011.

Carers are often ill-informed about alternatives to restraint, and have come to view freedom-limiting options as routine. They no longer see secure units, locking patients in their homes, sedation and enforcing strict daily routines as curtailing people's freedom.

Other methods
Some institutions are already employing other methods of protecting the vulnerable.

These include more personal supervision, with attention being paid to making patients feel happy and at ease, and stopping them from becoming agitated in the first place.

The report calls for a drastic reduction in the use of all measures which limit patients' freedom. Care home residents should be given more space and they should have their accommodation modernised.

More expert staff should be employed, and more consideration should be given by management to the manner in which the vulnerable are kept from harming themselves.

Organisations representing care workers and their clients in the disabled and elderly sectors are joining the IGZ on Tuesday for a conference aimed at addressing the problems highlighted in the report.

[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]

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