Practical approaches to reduce the use of restrictive practices on people with disabilities within the disability service provider sector

  • Project dates: 2017

The Social and Global Studies Centre and the National Disability Services (NDS) have been engaged by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) – Office of Professional Practice (OPP) to lead a two year research project to develop practical approaches to reducing the use of restrictive practices on people with disabilities within the disability service provider – client interaction.

The most recent Restrictive Intervention Data System data shows that while the use of some restrictive interventions are decreasing, the use of chemical and physical restraint is increasing. In addition, certain people are at risk of experiencing restraint for extended periods (i.e. over years). Research shows that the most effective solution to restraint reduction and elimination is a whole of organisation change strategy.

‘The Roadmap for Achieving Dignity without Restraint (2012)’ was a resource developed by Associate Prof. Paul Ramcharan that draws on Huckshorn’s six core strategies (Huckshorn 2005) on reducing restraint and seclusion such as leadership, workforce development, an debriefing tools, all based in a human rights framework.

In 2013/14 a pilot of ‘The Roadmap’ resource was tested in a small six-month project. The pilot involved measuring base levels of knowledge and understanding of use of restrictive practices of managers and staff supporting people within disability service provider organisations, providing an intervention training day to these managers and staff, and then remeasuring knowledge and understanding of use of restrictive practices, followed by implementation organisational strategies detailed in The Roadmap training day.

The 2017-2018 ‘Roadmap’ extends The Roadmap’s implementation with a sufficiently larger sample of managers and staff supporting people with disability, and with a testing of outcomes over a two year period.  It will deliver new training tools and resources based on The Roadmap big ticket items – choice, support worker reflection, positive histories, risk and benefit, human rights and addressing trauma related behaviours of concern – plus incorporating additional aspects of the National Disability Services’ (NDS) Zero-tolerance framework into the research design.

The aims of the project are to:

  • assess the implementation of The Roadmap in effecting cultural change within the service provider landscape in relation to knowledge, understanding and use of restrictive practices on people with disabilities;
  • increase the quality of life and human rights of people with disability by reducing their experience of restrictive practices and extending their personal choices and self-determination;
  • reduce behaviours of concern of people with disability within the service provider organisation;
  • improve capacity of managers and support staff to manage and respond to behaviours of concern of people with disability (including in particular minimising the use of any restrictive practices used as required by support staff in seeking to control behaviours of concern); and
  • more broadly this research project also aims to inform the development of the new NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework with regard to positive behaviour support and the reduction of use of restrictive practices.

Since 2007, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in Victoria, through the Office of Professional Practice (OPP) has supported the adoption and roll-out of human rights-based approaches to educate about, and support reduction and elimination of, restrictive practices in Victoria. The Office of Professional Practice (OPP) has supported leadership; developed tools and resources and established the Restrictive Intervention Data System (RIDS) to evaluate use of restrictive interventions over time.

Key People

Researcher

Associate Professor Paul Ramcharan

Associate Professor Paul Ramcharan

Senior Research Fellow

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