Health Management Mental Health Reports

Policy guidelines: Seclusion and Restraint of Mental Health Care Users

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Written by Health-e News

The Department of Health’s guidelines detail how healthcare workers may use seclusion and physical restraint with mental patients and caution that these actions should be seen as a last resort.

Released in 2012, the guidelines begin with a forward by Department of Health Director General Precious Matsoso that acknowledges the vulnerability of mental health patients. The forward stresses that healthcare workers’ use of seclusion and physical restraint in regards to mental health patients should only be used in extreme circumstances as a matter of last resort.

The guidelines note that violent patients should only be physical restrained for brief periods during which medicine to control violence behaviour is administered. The document stresses seclusion and physical restraint may not be used as method to punish patients, and that patients and families  should be educated about the use and purpose of seclusion and mechanical restraint.

Thus, the 16-page guidelines outline appropriate and inappropriate instances in which seclusion and physical restraint may be used. The document then goes onto to describe appropriate record keeping, and monitoring and evaluation of instances in which seclusion and restraint have been used. Finally, the guidelines detail the requirements for dedicated seclusion rooms in facilities.

Download the policy guidelines: Policy Guidelines on Seclusion and Restraint of Mental Healthcare Users

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Health-e News

Health-e News is South Africa's dedicated health news service and home to OurHealth citizen journalism. Follow us on Twitter @HealtheNews