Mental Health and Least Restrictive Practice
In 2015, the Mental Health Act Code of Practice called on mental health services to reduce restrictive interventions. At Health Connections Patient Transport Service the welfare of our clients is at the forefront of everything we do. Therefore in our Statement of Purpose, we are very clear:
‘We believe strongly in engagement and distraction as a means of assessing and managing individuals proactively, this we believe, enables us to use least restrictive practice, reducing stigma and optimising the individuals experience’
But what is ‘Least Restrictive Practice’ and why should we be using it? Let’s first understand what Restrictive Practice is.
To use restrictive practice means to do something that restricts someone from doing what they want to do. Any practice that restricts someone’s rights or freedom of movement is a restrictive practice. This includes physical restraint, either by holding an individual or using a piece of equipment. But in some settings, it could also mean using medical restraint, for example, sedatives, or seclusion (locking an individual in a room). However, it is very important to note that using restrictive practice without legal justification is against the law. It should not be used without training, authorisation and completing necessary documentation.
A key principle is that you should only use restrictive practice as an absolute last resort. Very simply, when you have tried other options and these have not worked, but someone is at risk of harm. Only use a restrictive intervention to ensure the safety of an individual or others, and the least restrictive option should always be used.
How do we use the Least Restrictive Practice?
The safety and wellbeing of our clients is at the centre of everything we do. Therefore, by putting the focus on engagement and distraction with our clients, we can avoid having to use restrictive practice.