It has been revealed that security guards are being used to restrain dementia patients in hospitals. The untrained staff are called in three times a week to deal with vulnerable patients if they become distressed.
Dementia charities and MPs have voiced their concern over the practice calling it “completely unacceptable” and saying that the use of physical restraint suggests that staff were not adequately trained.
The Telegraph reports:
At least 17 hospital trusts, responding to a Freedom of Information request, admitted that they routinely used security staff to deal with vulnerable dementia patients who became distressed on wards.
Of the 76 trusts that responded, just four said they banned security from restraining patients under any circumstances, according to the Daily Mail.
All 160 NHS hospital trusts in England were asked how many times security were called to restrain patients in 2012/13 and 2013/14.
Of the 42 trusts that admitted using security staff to deal with patients, 17 admitted calling security to control those with dementia.
Others used security staff to restrain patients who were under the influence of alcohol and drugs, or who had mental health or medical problems influencing their behaviour.
Thirteen of the trusts that admitted using security guards to cope with patients did not routinely record why they had been called.
In total, security guards restrained hospital patients 5,722 times across the 42 trusts in two years – more than seven incidents a day. Of these, 320 were recorded as being dementia or Alzheimer’s patients.
George McNamara, from the Alzheimer’s Society, said hospitals that provided training in dealing with dementia were less likely to experience violent incidents.
“Physical restraints shouldn’t be the default answer as behaviour can often be managed through hospital staff understanding more about dementia and in particular about the individual,” he added.
Hilda Hayo, chief executive of Dementia UK, said: “We do find occasions where security are called in to intervene in situations involving patients with dementia; often when communication has broken down and ward staff haven’t had adequate training to understand the person’s needs and how they are being expressed.”
She added that deploying dementia specialist nurses, known as Admiral nurses, in hospitals could help ‘translate’ behaviour and reduce problems.
Paul Burstow, the former care minister and Liberal Democrat MP, said: “If the distress and confusion often associated with dementia is routinely managed through physical restraint rather than skilled care that is completely unacceptable.