AMA recommends responsible use of restraint in aged care

The AMA has revised its Position Statement on Restraint in the Care of People in Residential Aged Care Facilities.


AMA Vice President, Dr Stephen Parnis, said today that the AMA recognises the need for balance between a patient’s right to self-determination and protection from harm, including harm to other residents and staff.


Medical practitioners work with patients, carers, and family members to ensure that restraint is used as a last resort, and for the shortest possible period,” Dr Parnis said.


There is a clear distinction between treating older people with diagnosed illness and using psychotropics (psychiatric medicines that alter chemical levels in the brain that impact mood and behaviour) for the sole purpose of restraint.


Psychotropic medications are a clinically appropriate treatment for older people with medical conditions such as anxiety, depression, psychosis, and dementia.


They can be very effective in assisting a person to become settled in their environment.


The use of restraints can be considerably minimised through proper resourcing, appropriate levels of trained staff to engage residents in meaningful activities, and facility design and infrastructure that maintains a low stress environment,” Dr Parnis said.


The Position Statement is available at


Most of the revisions to the Position Statement were informed by the 2012 Department of Health and Ageing Decision Making Tool: Supporting a restraint free environment in residential aged care, which is available at:


24 March 2015.