Comment on the potential impact of Covid-19

Clearly these are particularly difficult times for health, social care, and education services. There is a need to balance safety and risk with the maintenance of quality of life and wellbeing for vulnerable populations and the staff that support them.

We would expect that all those committed to restraint reduction will continue to support people in advising the sector how to provide safe support in least restrictive ways.

Non-essential training is likely to move down the priority list because of staffing issues and the risk of community infection. Face to face training events and particularly training that involves practising physical techniques carries elevated risk. We advise following NHS advice if training is going ahead as some commissioners will have made the decision that it is a necessary activity for safety reasons and adhering to the necessary safety precautions is paramount.

It is likely that adults and children with learning disabilities, mental health conditions, dementia and autistic people will be vulnerable to stress and anxiety, and as services place more restrictions their distress may escalate. It is essential that staff have the confidence and skills to work both preventatively and in ways that reduce potential stress, and that they have de-escalation skills to use if needed. Therefore, where breakaway and restrictive interventions are being taught, it is essential that preventive training is also provided.

There may be some option for some elements of preventative training that could be facilitated virtually, and we have heard that some providers are thinking creatively.

In times of stress and crisis there is increased risk of reactive and restrictive cultures developing and we expect that all Restraint Reduction Network members will be mindful of this and will be offering extra support where needed.

Thanks you for your continued support to reducing restrictive practices and to the Restraint Reduction Network.

Keep safe
Joy Duxbury

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