Physical Restraints in Nursing Homes

There are many types of physical restraints in nursing homes. Many common nursing home practices satisfy the definition of a restraint. In caring for elder people, it is sometimes necessary to limit their freedom or movement with physical restrains to protect them from harming themselves. Usually, this is done for reasons of good care and practical considerations.

However, physical restrains in nursing homes could be considered abusive in extreme circumstance and may lead to harming a nursing home resident.

Examples of physical restraints in nursing homes:

  • Using bed rails to stop a resident from getting out of bed
  • Tucking in a bed sheet so tightly that a resident cannot move from a bed
  • Using wheelchair safetybars or another device to prevent rising out of a sitting chair
  • Situating a resident in a chair that prevents rising or other mobility
  • Placing a wheelchair-bound resident near a wall that prevents the resident from moving

Seclusion may also be categorized as a type of physical restrain. Seclusion in a nursing home is defined as  the involuntary confinement of a nursing home resident alone in a room. This will happen when the person is physically prevented from leaving and is not able to exercise their free will.

Medicare/ Medicaid certified nursing homes cannot use nursing home physical restraints unless they are needed to treat the elder resident’s medical symptoms. In addition, Federal law requires certified facilities to care for residents in a way that maintains or enhances quality of life and physical restrains go directly against this purpose.

Residents have the right to make decisions about their care and treatment. Physical restraints in nursing homes should not be used without the consent of the resident or the legal representative.


More Information About Physical Restrains in Nursing Homes:

Use of physical restraint in nursing homes: clinical‐ethical considerations


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