Ireland – Chemical restraint to control behaviors

To read on The Irish Times website:

Chemical restraint of intellectually disabled common in residential centres, study finds

Potent pills: how drugs are being used to control behaviour of disabled

by    Tue, Jun 2, 2015


Linda and her son Anthony Kletzander, who is in his early 20s and live in a group home. Photograph: Dara Mac Donnaill

Maeve Kennedy was worried. Her brother Eamonn, who is mildly intellectually disabled, had just been admitted to hospital from the care centre where he was a resident.

Hospital records show his body was marked with bruising and lacerations to the head.

She was already concerned about the medication he was on; he seemed increasingly unsteady on his feet and listless when she saw him.

While Eamonn had a quiet and gentle side, he also was prone to impulsive and occasionally violent behaviour when under stress.

“It seemed to me that he was being chemically restrained to make it easier to control his behaviour,” says Ms Kennedy. “I raised these concerns but I wasn’t getting satisfactory answers.”

Clinical notes show the drugs he was being prescribed included olanzapine, an antipsychotic used to treat major mental illness. Because of its tranquillising properties, it is sometimes used as a way of managing the behaviour of people with challenging behaviour.

An independent report Ms Kennedy commissioned from Dr Séamus O’Reilly, a consultant in emergency medicine, suggests the falls may have been linked to the combination of drugs Mr Kennedy was being administered.

Dr O’Reilly also concluded that some of the bruising on his body was “suspicious of non- accidental injury” and was likely to have been sustained in attempts to restrain him.

Some time later, a highly critical inspection report into the care home where he was resident – Redwood Extended Care Facility in Stamullen, Co Meath – revealed incidents of chemical restraint that had not been notified to authorities.

In addition, there was concern over the use of physical restraint at the centre along with a failure to routinely assess or review lengthy episodes of challenging behaviour.

In a statement to The Irish Times, the operators of the centre – the privately-owned Talbot group – said Redwood declined to comment on the case. It said it was committed to using only “evidence-based, non-aversive support strategies that respect the dignity, privacy and rights of all residents”.

In line with best practice, it said Redwood actively strives to minimise the use of all restrictive practices and aims to “provide an individualised, person-centred ethical service”.

Psychotropic drugs

Just over half of people with learning disabilities living in residential centres are being prescribed powerful psychotropic drugs, new research indicates.


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