Monday, 10 December 2012

Margaret Flynn Provides Notes From A Department Of Health Stakeholder Event On Positive Behaviour Support

What is restraint? An array of interventions, some of which are coercive, the merits of which may not be known. The ways in which restraint is perceived differs markedly – with many professionals broadly asserting its necessity – typically by citing extreme examples –  and people with learning disabilities and autism and their families questioning its necessity.

Which principles should underlie physical intervention? The following elements of principles should underlie physical intervention:

• The context should be known i.e. there are risky environments, risky management decisions, risky managers and practitioners and risky practices. The latter would include, for example, undertaking a physical intervention without any knowledge of a person’s biography.
• The traumas people are known to have endured should not be reinforced by any form of a physical intervention e.g. people who are known to have been sexually assaulted should not be placed on the ground and immobilised by body weight
• People’s experiences of being subject to restraint, for example, should be known – are they doing to their peers and staff what they have endured in previous settings?
• Individuals should never be restrained when they are naked or partially naked. Furthermore, when naked or partially naked, they should never be immobilised by body weight
• Any intervention has to be part of an agreed and positive approach
• Chemical restraint, physical restraint, mechanical restraint and/or seclusion should not co-occur

What data is required? Every incident of physical restraint should be recorded as a patient safety incident. What is the point of counting incidents if nothing other than the fact of a physical restraint, for example, is known? Information concerning physical interventions requires a single route.

How we get from where we are now to where we want to be? The NHS Commissioning Board should issue a series of edicts, i.e. Thou shalt…

• Adopt a life-span approach to people with learning disabilities and autism, referencing this in their service specifications
• Put a moratorium on building new secure services or extending such services in the knowledge that if there is a building it will be filled
• Ensure that the Care Quality Commission does not register units which are outwith national policy i.e. Assessment and Treatment units
• Review and challenge the use of the mental health legislation as it impacts on adults with learning disabilities and autism on a locality basis
• Discontinue the office function of long distance commissioning in favour of investing in effective and credible local supports - if Winterbourne View Hospital patients and their families had known the telephone contact details of individual commissioners – it is unlikely that they would have had to resort to calling the police
• Promote the piloting of micro-commissioning – with people with learning disabilities and autism, their families and their local authorities
• Only invest public money and commission services from agencies which are owned by accountable individuals i.e. not opaque corporate bodies
• Ensure that a service’s Statement of Purpose cites “positive behaviour support” and that this is reviewed by the Care Quality Commission
• Cease to believe that (i) compliance with minimum standards results in a safe and valued support service which requires neither monitoring nor evaluation and (ii) that professionals know everything

Margaret Flynn, contributor and note taker, November 2012

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