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Every Resident - Bill of Rights for people who live in Ontario long-term care homes

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13. Restraint

"Every resident has the right not to be restrained, except in the limited circumstances provided for under this Act and subject to the requirements provided for under this Act."

In other words...

You have the right to be free of restraints, except in the few situations where the law allows restraints to be used.

A restraint is anything that limits your movement and prevents you from doing something you might want to do. Some examples of restraints are:

  • medication or drugs,
  • wheelchairs with lap belts,
  • mittens, to keep you from scratching yourself,
  • bed rails, to keep you from falling out of bed, and
  • locked doors.

But there are some types of restraints that homes are never allowed to use. Examples of banned devices are:

  • roller bars on wheelchairs, commodes, and toilets,
  • restraints that can be released only with a separate device such as a key or magnet, and
  • sheets, wraps, or other items used to wrap you to prevent you from moving.

If you are mentally capable, no one can restrain you, put you in a locked unit, or prevent you from leaving if you do not agree. You may want a friend, family member, or advocate to help you decide whether you should allow restraints to be used on you. If you are not mentally capable, your substitute decision-maker must decide for you.

Sometimes, you may need a restraint for your own safety.

Restraints should not hurt you or make you uncomfortable. If you are put in restraints, your healthcare providers must check on you frequently. And you must be assessed at regular intervals by:

  • a doctor,
  • a registered nurse, or
  • a registered nurse in the extended class, who is sometimes called a nurse practitioner.

Your doctor must tell you about any plans to use a restraint on you and explain how it would be done. You must be told what will happen if you agree to the restraint and what will happen if you do not.

The only time you can be restrained without consent is during an emergency, if there is no other way to prevent serious bodily harm to you or someone else. Medication or drugs can be used as a restraint only during an emergency situation.