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Department updates quality advice to warn against chemical restraint


The Department of Health has updated the provider resource for the new aged care quality standards to include concerns about the inappropriate use of antipsychotic medications as a form of chemical restraint.

The transition to the new single Aged Care Quality Standards is underway, and all providers of Commonwealth-funded aged care will be assessed against them from 1 July 2019.

The Guidance and Resources for Providers to support the Aged Care Quality Standards, which aims to assist providers to implement the new quality standards, did not mention chemical restraint before an amendment on 25 January.

The information was added to Standard 3, which addresses the personal and clinical care of aged care residents. It now states:

“Although antipsychotic medicines may be appropriate for adults with severe mental health issues or long-term mental illness, there is a concern that these medicines are being prescribed inappropriately in people aged 65 years and over for their sedative effects – that is, a form of chemical restraint for people with psychological behavioural symptoms of dementia or delirium.”

The guidance was amended as part of the review process underway prior to the 1 July implementation date, a spokesperson for the Department of Health told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“This review is intended to take on board feedback received from Standards Guidance Reference Group members, quality assessors testing the assessment processes, and to enable review by the new interim Chief Clinical Advisor in relation to links to best practice clinical care,” the spokesperson said.

As part of the review and largely in response to specific recommendations in the Atlas of Health Variation, which examines national patterns of antipsychotic medication use among its remit, the specific example on chemical restraint was added to Standard 3(b), the spokesperson said.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt announced on 17 January that chemical and physical restraints in aged care facilities would soon be better regulated.

The announcement followed media reports about the incidence of chemical and physical restraints in aged care, however, Minister Wyatt said the tighter regulation was in response to an 18-month examination of the issue (read more here).

A spokesperson for Mr Wyatt told AAA on Tuesday that the new regulations were still being prepared but would be announced shortly.

Access the guidance material on the new standards here.

Read also: Expert advises on best-practice use of antipsychotics

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4 Responses to Department updates quality advice to warn against chemical restraint

  1. Vicki Kelly January 30, 2019 at 2:35 pm #

    Their is no need for chemical restraint anymore. We have proved to DHS and Nursing Staff over the years there is a better way this has been happening since 1998

  2. Brian Herd January 30, 2019 at 4:10 pm #

    One can only hope that doctors ie the prescribers of the chemical restraints, are included in this process

  3. Jenifer Lee January 31, 2019 at 5:30 pm #

    Before any chemical constraints are prescribed there should be an application made to a panel who hears the application for use and either approves or rejects the application. The medications should only be prescribed if the application for use meets a very strict set of criteria .they meed certain criteria.

  4. Rhonda Nay February 1, 2019 at 10:24 am #

    You don’t need a panel, if it is restraint it must be banned.

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