Restraints in dementia: a breach of human rights

The use of ANY restraints in dementia care, including physical or chemical, is starting to be seen by now by many including health care professionals and not just a few of us living with dementia or supporting someone with dementia, as a major breach of human rights. Locking people in secure units, is for other people’s convenience, and our ‘perceived safety’; however, it is still a breach of our human rights, and why DAI is advocating for the phasing out of institutional care and locked units. I am as appalled about the use of restraints as a growing number of others are, including people like Dr Al Power, and I strongly recommend you read his two books, Dementia Beyond Disease, and Dementia Beyond Drugs. You can watch a presentation Al did for DAI members and supporters about new perspective on living with dementia here:


12 thoughts on “Restraints in dementia: a breach of human rights

  1. I have seen tiny little ladies shackled to a bed just for the pure fact that care staff are incapable of understanding how to care for someone living with dementia, and suggest they are aggressive, agitated, resistive, and so on. Really?? I wonder what triggers this type of behavioural expression if it is not due to someone who is scared out of their mind, or acutely delirious, or in hideous pain, or is being forced to do something that means their needs are not being met.

    The miserable and awful reality is that it is often these staff attitudes that create the very behaviour they suggest a person needs restraint for.

    This is what is so atrocious, because we are often the very cause of the agitated or aggressive responses by misunderstanding and mismanaging people who live with dementia.

    Then we have the gall to shackle them like a dog to a bed, because of our own poor care ethic, or not meeting their needs effectively.
    This is not care. This is inhumane.

    Older people living with dementia are said to be at high risk to themselves because of behaviour and are labelled and judged to be ‘unsafe,’ ‘a high falls risk’ or ‘non-compliant to treatment’ because of it, as if its some plausible excuse.

    Hence, I have a major problem with physical restraint in any way as it defies all humanity, compassionate care and common decency.

    It can also be rightly argued that physically restraining a person or tying them down would exacerbate all of the above behaviours, and in fact there has been considerable proof that trying to get out of these restraints causes worse injuries than the ones a restraint is ‘supposed’ to ‘protect’ a person from.

    The worst being broken bones, lacerations, strangling, and death. And of course the emotional trauma.

    It seems to me that again we are missing the point and creating a horrific situation where someone is put at increased severe risk because we do not understand the repercussions of physical restraint and have false beliefs that’s its actually ok to do this to another human being.

    I believe it is one of the worst archaic brutal concepts, and there are no excuses for physically restraining a person living with dementia who is exhibiting behavioural expression because we do not meet their needs.

    I do wonder how people that make these decisions would feel if it was them, that were restrained in this way? Or their children when they misbehave.


      • And to you darling friend.

        It never ceases to amaze me how in sync you and I always are. Its beautiful in its synergy.

        I commenced my weekly topic for discussion the week before last for my instagram feed, in which I confront or discuss a specific area a week, daily.

        That topic, unintentionally, was, physical restraint!!!!!!

        I had prepared it all for the week to come, (last week), gathered all my pics to make my point, and begun the discussion.
        Literally a few hours later, up pops YOUR site with this very discussion on the same area of concern.

        Perfection at its finest!!!!!!!!

        Love and smiles babe.



  2. Not so easy when it comes to domestic violence Kate.
    Or violent hallucinations.
    Two husbands of friends, both with PCA, gentle men, ended up on mattresses in bare rooms, locked, so they couldn’t hurt themselves thrashing about in terror. I know one was briefly scheduled till they found the right meds….he regained his sense of self and died peacefully after 3 calm weeks with his lover at his side.


  3. I am leaving our external door open except when we are in bed. Maureen has been walking by herself yesterday and today. She always finds her way back one way or another. One of the things she hates about dementia is being treated like a child with no freedom whatsoever. Thanks for this reminder to keep the ban on DOLS here.


  4. Completely agree Kate. If everyone was engaged in meaningful activities to prevent boredom and the environment was easy to find your way around and all staff treated everyone with the respect they deserve there would be no need to lock doors as no-one would want to leave.


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