Physical restraint use and falls in institutional care of old people : effects of a restraint minimization program

Sammanfattning: Physical restraint use and falls are common in institutional care of old people and various attempts have been made to reduce their occurrence. Falls and concomitant injuries are a major problem due to their negative effect on morbidity and mortality. Prevention of falls and injuries is the most common reason for physically restraining old people in institutional care. Its use has, however, been questioned both from an ethical perspective, since restraints can be perceived as coercive and also because of the lack of sound evidence of their effectiveness in preventing falls, as well as the adverse effects associated with their use. The main purposes of this thesis were to investigate differences in the us of physical restraints over time, to identifify risk factors for falls among people with dementia, to evaluate the effects of a restraint minimization program on staff knowledge, attitudes, and work environment and use of physical restraints and the quality of care. The present thesis is based on three main data collections, two census surveys conducted within institutional care for old people in the county of Västerbotten in 2000 (n=3,804) and 2007 (n=2,970) and one cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) including 40 group dwellings for people suffering from dementia where the intervention consisted of staff education. The use of physical restraints increased slightly between 2000 and 2007 (16.2% to 18.4%, p=0.016). Analyses suggest that the increase might be independent of any change in resident characteristics. Restrained residents were also subjected to restraints for longer times in 2007. During a six-month follow-up 64/160 (40.0%) residents in group dwellings for those with dementia sustained at least one fall. Independent risk factors for falls were ‘requiring help with hygiene’, ‘displaying verbally disruptive/attention-seeking behavior’, ‘able to rise from a chair’, ‘walking with assistive devices’, and ‘participating in outdoor walks’, which explained 36.1% of the falls. The majority of the 191 falls were un-witnessed, 35% occurred during the night and anxiety and confusion were the most common symptoms preceding the falls. A six-month restraint minimization program showed a positive impact on staff knowledge, attitudes and work environment as well as on the use of physical restraints and subjectively estimated quality of care. Residents in the intervention group present throughout the entire study period had lower odds, relative to the residents in the control group of being physically restrained at follow-up (OR= 0.21, CI 95%=0.08-0.57) after controlling for potential confounders and the cluster effect. Adjusted analyses including all residents present at either baseline or follow-up also showed that the use of physical restraints was less in the intervention group relative to the control group at follow-up. There was no change in the occurrence of falls or use of psychoactive drugs. The intervention also reduced stress of conscience, job demands and strain in the staff, and improved their job control and the caring climate. Subgroup analysis indicated a greater effect in units where the use of physical restraints had been reduced or remained constant. In conclusion, physical restraint use and falls remains common in institutional care of old people. The practice of physical restraint seems to have changed. In the RCT it was found that it is possible to change restraint practice and also to improve staff work environment. Falls among residents with dementia require a certain mobility function and anxiety and confusion are common symptoms preceding falls.