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Caregivers, advocates play an important role in avoiding patient restraint and seclusion

December 14th, 2015 | Posted in Advocacy 101, Consumer Focus, Quality Care

Facilities across the health care industry have seen a rash of patient injuries related to restraint and seclusion over the past year, with some cases so severe as to endanger not only the patient’s life, but the Medicare funding for the hospital involved.

Reducing the use of restraints and seclusion in health care facilities requires a patient-centered focus that requires a larger effort than implementing a few procedural policies, says Kevin Huckshorn, Ph.D, RN, ICRC, president of Behavioral Health Consulting, based in Delaware.

“We know that the prevention of conflict and reduction of restraints and seclusion is possible in all behavioral health settings, and we know that this effort takes tremendous leadership, commitment and motivation by all involved,” noted Huckshorn, who was the guest speaker during a Dec. 9 webinar dedicated to the elimination of restraint and seclusion, “The Six Core Strategies: An Evidence-Based Practice to Prevent Conflict and Violence in Inpatient and Residential Settings,” presented by DecisionHealth.

This patient-centered effort includes caregivers and family members of behavioral health patients. In 2003, The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health called for the complete inclusion of consumers and family members as providers, advocates, policymakers and full partners in creating plans of care, explained Huckshorn.

As caregiver or patient advocate, finding facilities that have given considerable attention to this aspect of behavioral health care is highly important to ensuring that the patient you care for does not find themselves unjustly restrained, secluded or harmed.

Huckshorn advises looking for facilities that offer opportunities for input or have shown evidence of engaging the patient and caregiver. Huckshorn recommends caregivers keep a list of patient triggers and calming techniques for this reason, if they have not done so already. Some examples of what to look for include collaborative treatment planning, consumer councils and consumer surveys.

Health care facilities that accept this kind of input shows that they have a greater focus on the individual needs of the patient and have a vested interest in keeping the patient safe and unharmed, Huckshorn explained.

For more on how you can play a part of improving behavioral health care in the U.S., Huckshorn recommends checking out the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The NAMI site can connect you with local resources and support for your patient’s needs.