Last week, the Departments of Health and Education published new draft guidance on the use of restraint and restrictive interventions on autistic children, with a learning disability or mental health difficulty.
It is proposed to apply to special schools (maintained, non-maintained, free and independent, as well as academies). It also applies to children’s homes, foster care and all NHS settings.
The guidance is based on the following principles:
- There will be times when restraint is needed to safeguard the individual or others but, broadly speaking, restraint should be the last response to behaviour that challenges. De-escalation techniques, appropriate to the child or young person, set within a positive and proactive approach to behaviour, should always be used to try and avoid the need to use restraint.
- Use of restraint should be based on assessment of risk.
- There would be a real possibility of injury or harm to the child or young person, other children or young people, to staff, the public or others if no intervention or a less restrictive intervention were undertaken.
- An intervention should be in the best interests of the child or young person and balanced against respecting the safety and dignity of all concerned, including other children, young people or adults present.
- Restraint should not be used to punish or with the intention of inflicting pain, suffering or humiliation.
- The techniques used to restrain or restrict liberty of movement must be reasonable and proportionate to the circumstances, risk and seriousness of harm; and be applied with the minimum force necessary, for no longer than necessary, by appropriately trained staff.
- Use of restraint, reasons for it and consequences of its use, must be subject to audit and monitoring and be open and transparent.
- When reviewing plans for restraint with children and young people, those with parental responsibility or, where appropriate, advocates should be involved.
This consultation on the draft guidance is open until 24 January 2018 and you can feedback your views via the Department of Health website.