Ontario government takes action to restrict the use of physical restraints

Archived Release

Ontario government takes action to restrict the use of physical restraints

Ministry of Community and Social Services

TORONTO, Sept. 7 /CNW/ - Community and Social Services Minister John Baird announced today that the government will be prohibiting the use of physical restraints, except in cases where the safety of clients or staff is at risk. This restriction is part of a six-point action plan designed to better protect children and adults.
Today's announcement comes in the wake of the Coroner's Inquest into the death of William Edgar. Edgar was a 13-year-old boy who died after being physically restrained in a Peterborough group home in 1999.
The jury sitting on the inquest released 60 recommendations calling for, among other things, standards and regulations on the safe use of physical restraints, specified ongoing training of staff, and best practice guidelines regarding the use of behaviour management interventions. The six-point plan is an initial response to what the government has learned during the course of the Edgar inquest.
"The protection and safety of those in care and the staff that provide the service are our number one priority," said Baird. "All of these clients deserve to live in a secure and nurturing environment where their safety and dignity are respected."

The six-point action plan looks like this:

1) The use of physical restraints will be prohibited, except in cases
where the safety of clients or staff are at risk.

2) Clear and enforceable policies and standards on the use of physical
restraints will be introduced.

3) These policies and standards will be developed by April 1, 2002, and
fully implemented by April 1, 2003, including:
- Regulatory changes proposed under the Child and Family Services Act
and the Developmental Services Act
- Licensing changes
- Service contract changes
- The development of a best practice guide
- Staff training

4) Those who don't adhere to the tough new requirements on physical
restraints could lose their licences or have their service contracts
terminated.

5) Additional funding will be provided to support training staff who use
restraints, and on the use of alternative behaviour management
interventions.

6) Reporting requirements will be stepped up and will be mandatory.
Service providers will be required to complete an incident report and
conduct a debriefing with client, staff and a supervisor following the
use of any physical restraint. The incident report will be sent to the
Regional Office for review, and a follow-up with the service provider
will be required.

"Physical restraints should only be used as a last resort," said Baird. "Our goal is to have a world where physical restraints are not necessary. However, until we reach that point, we must be clear on how they can be used."
The six-point action plan builds on the work already done in this area. In early 2000 the Harris government provided funding to Children's Mental Health Ontario to review the use of behavioural interventions in children's residential and hospital facilities. In April 2001, the final report was completed.
Immediately following the release of that report the government approved $350,000 in one-time funding to extend the contract with "Safeguards Children's Services Training". This non-profit organization, made up of Children's Mental Health Ontario, Ontario Association of Community Living, Ontario Association of Children's and Youth Institutions, Ontario Association of Residences Treating Youth and Ontario Association of Native Child and Family Services, trains frontline staff and supervisors on the proper use of physical restraints, and on the use of alternative behaviour management interventions. This initial funding will provide training for over 1,000 staff beginning this fall.
"Research on the proper use of physical restraints has been evolving for over 20 years now," said Baird. "Although we announced an initial plan of action today, we must have an ongoing consultation with experts such as the Chief Coroner of Ontario, police, and clinicians in the field to ensure we tap into the latest research and adopt best practices."

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For further information: Dan Miles, Minister's Office (416) 325-5215; Dianne Lone, Ministry of Community and Social Services (416) 325-5156; For more information visit http://www.gov.on.ca/CSS.