Caregiver's teen restraint 'inappropriate'

  • 11/08/2015
Caregiver's teen restraint 'inappropriate'

It was unnecessary and inappropriate for a caregiver to restrain a teenager with an intellectual disability after a verbal disagreement, a Health and Disability Commissioner report has found.

In 2013, the then 18-year-old was living at a residential care facility after he was found unfit to stand trial on criminal charges because of his mild intellectual disability.

A caregiver weighing about 170kg restrained the teen, who weighed about 50-60kg, after a verbal altercation.

The 18-year-old said when his caregiver told him to get out of the kitchen, he responded with a derogatory term, and the caregiver then threw him on the ground.

But the caregiver said the teen was having an inappropriate conversation while playing cards with another resident, and when he asked them to stop, the teen threw a pen at him and later tried to wrestle him.

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rose Wall said there were varying accounts, but said she was satisfied that the caregiver grabbed the teen.

She was also satisfied the caregiver held the teen's hands and put his hand on the teen's chest for some of the restraint, which she believed lasted for about 10 minutes.

Restraint was only appropriate if non-physical attempts to de-escalate the situation had failed and the man was a risk to himself or others. Neither of those circumstances existed, she said.

"When restraint is required, it should be carried out in a controlled and methodical manner; the caregiver's intervention in this case was not," Ms Wall said.

She recommended the caregiver apologise to the man, and said the facility should independently review its policies relating to restraint.