By Sheri Ross, Regional Supervisor
During my time as an Ombudsman I have witnessed how different cultures and lack of training can impact what looks like a good intention but causes harm. Caregivers are all too happy showing me how they protect their residents by locking them in their rooms to prevent others from entering or placing chairs around a bed to prevent falls. What the staff may not realize is that by placing chairs around a bed it is restraining a resident and they could become tangled in the restraint and cause harm or death. By locking a resident in their room to prevent another resident from entering or preventing the resident from wandering out is also very dangerous in case of fire or other disaster, not to mention a resident’s personal rights. Placing something behind the wheels of wheelchair and pushing the wheelchair against a table prevents the resident from moving. Sounds harmless, but what happens when the staff walks away and the person slides out of the wheelchair and is strangled because the wheelchair will not move? Family members are concerned with the safety of their relatives, but may not be aware of the potential dangers of restraints.
I know I would never like to be restrained in my room. To family members and caregivers, these interventions may sound like good ideas to protect our loved ones, but they could potentially be deadly. We need the help of everyone to recognize a restraint. The Ombudsman program is here to help educate both the facilities and families on the correct way to protect the residents.