Our focus on reduction and prevention

The Restraint Reduction Network is a charity leading an international movement to reduce and prevent the use of restrictive practices. We are a network of committed organisations and individuals promoting positive, trauma-informed and human rights respecting cultures across education, health and social care services. Services should be safe, dignified and respect people’s autonomy and wellbeing.

The RRN advocate for the elimination of all inappropriate and unnecessary restrictive practices. All forms of restrictive practice can and do result in harm. Practitioners and people accessing services often report the misuse and abuse of restrictive practices as recently illustrated through several high-profile scandals. The RRN is concerned with the overuse of and over-reliance on restrictive practices in too many services, which can infringe on the rights of the individual, cause distress, trauma, physical injury and on occasions death.

People experiencing distress are often vulnerable to restrictive practices, and we know that significant inequalities exist, with some people more likely to experience restraint than others. Where people are distressed, services should support people in ways that are therapeutic and uphold their human rights.

On rare occasions, restraint may be necessary to prevent harm. Where restrictive practices are imposed, it is essential that these adhere to the requirements of the Human Rights Act. People’s right to life and to not be subject to inhumane or degrading treatment or discrimination cannot legally or ethically be infringed upon at any time. Any restriction imposed on a person’s right to liberty or to private and family life must be:

  • Lawful: there must be a legal framework that permits the restriction of a person’s rights, e.g. the Mental Health Act.
  • Justified: there must be a justifiable reason to interfere with rights, usually the prevention or alleviation of an imminent risk or significant harm from oneself or to others.
  • Proportionate: a restriction can only be imposed where its use will result in less harm than the harm experienced were the restriction not imposed  (i.e. best interest decision)
  • Least restrictive: a limitation placed on a right must be the absolute minimum, for the shortest time possible.

In order for any action to be considered proportionate and least restrictive, all realistic, preventative options must first be exhausted.

Ultimately, a person accessing health, social care or education services is there for treatment, support, or care. Agencies providing these services must ensure that their involvement supports this aim. Restraint by its nature is traumatic. Service provision that breaches human rights cannot be justified and unlawful restraint cannot be congruent with a culture of compassionate care.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) recognise that restrictive practices often stem from a failure to provide person centred care. It is our view that the vast majority of restrictive practices are preventable with the right support and are therefore unnecessary. We work to promote positive cultures within services that enable a preventative approach. This can be achieved through co-production, person centred planning, trauma informed care and timely, agile, reasonable adjustments. It is vital that services adopt preventative models, such as the 6 Core Strategies, to reduce the use of restrictive practices and train staff in relational approaches, focussed on meeting people’s needs. The 2023 Care Quality Commission policy position stated a clear expectation of rights-based care, positive cultures and accountability within services.

The RRN are committed to championing good practice and eliminating inappropriate and unnecessary restrictive practices. Together, we can ensure a human rights approach that centres compassionate care embedded across education, health and social care.

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