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Reducing and/or minimising physical restraint in a high care, rural aged care facility

Darcy, Lynette RN MCN

International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare: December 2007 - Volume 5 - Issue 4 - p 458–467

Background This report takes you through a journey of implementing evidence-based best practice guidelines in relation to physical restraint in an aged care facility. It describes the processes involved in making changes to an existing system, introducing evidence-based guidelines and collaboratively achieving compliance with best practice. The project formed part of a combined initiative between the Joanna Briggs Institute and the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, called the Aged Care Clinical Fellowship Program. The Joanna Briggs Institute Practical Application of Clinical Evidence System, an online audit-based tool that includes an action research process Getting Research Into Practice was used to facilitate audit data collection and analysis. This report demonstrates that effective clinical leadership and evidence-based research, combined with a strategy of audit, feedback and re-audit, can become an effective change agent to improve clinical practice in residential aged care facilities.

Aims/objectives The aims of this project were to increase staff knowledge and awareness of restraints, improve practices in restraint assessment and usage, reduce or minimise the amount and type of restraints used and ensure the least restrictive device possible was utilised in a rural aged care facility.

Methods A system of audit, feedback and re-audit was performed using the Joanna Briggs Institute Practical Application of Clinical Evidence System software. This was completed in a series of stages over a period of 6 months. The first stage was to apply defining characteristics to each of the evidence-based audit criteria to determine compliance. A team of staff was set up to assist with the project. An initial audit was conducted, followed by a situational analysis of the findings. From this an action plan for improvement using Getting Research Into Practice was developed. The action plan was then implemented and the criteria re-audited and reviewed.

Results The initial audit confirmed non-compliance as expected in two criteria. All criteria showed improvement in the re-audit. Those criteria with the least compliance in the initial audit showed the most improvement in the re-audit.

Conclusion Effective change processes can be achieved when there is an identified reason or need for change, and when staff are aware of that need. With clinical leadership and education attitudes, fears and myths can be dispelled and improved performance will come out.

Huon Eldercare, Franklin, Tasmania Australia

Correspondence: Lynette Darcy, Huon Eldercare, 3278 Huon Highway, Franklin, Tasmania 7113, Australia Email:

International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare © 2007 The Joanna Briggs Institute
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