Rise in seclusion and physical restraint at psychiatric unit

Commission says increase ‘very worrying’

There was a 12.8 per cent rise in the number of out-of-control patients who were secluded and physically restrained at the Department of Psychiatry, Roscommon Hospital, in 2013, the Mental Health Commission has found.

  In a report released last week, the Commission said that there were 53 such episodes at the unit – 25 of seclusion and 28 of physical restraint.

  The number of seclusion episodes represented a 31.6 per cent increase on the 19 recorded in 2012.

  Of all centres in the country, the unit’s total number of seclusion hours (1,885 hours, 7 minutes) was second only to the Central Mental Hospital, Dublin.

  The Roscommon unit also had the highest number of seclusion episodes in the country that exceeded 72 hours – ten of the 25 episodes.

  A patient would be secluded in a confined room when, for instance, they display challenging or violent behaviour or commit assault.

  Meanwhile, the 28 episodes of physical restraint related to ten patients, with the average duration of each episode being three minutes.

  The spike in the use of both practices reflected the national trend.

  Seclusion across all approved centres increased for the first time in six years, by 12 per cent, in 2013, while physical restraint rose by 8 per cent.

  John Saunders, the chairman of the Commission, said that the increase in the use of these practices was “very worrying”.

  “I would urge those providing mental health services to study the rules and codes practices in these areas to ensure they are delivering the most appropriate level of care,” he said.

  “Seclusion and restraint are emergency measures and should only be used in exceptional circumstances and only when in the best interests of the patient.”

  Meanwhile, 8.1 per cent of the 283 admissions to the Roscommon unit in 2013 were involuntary (without the patient’s consent).