• Vol. 34 No. 2, 158–162
  • 15 March 2005

Use of Physical Restraints in Nursing Homes: Current Practice in Singapore



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Introduction: One of the indicators of quality care in nursing homes is the proper use of physical restraints. Restraints have been associated with multiple complications, such as pressure ulcers, incontinence and immobility. The aim of our study was to assess the indication, use and complications related to physical restraints in Singapore nursing homes. Materials and Methods: All residents aged >65 years old from 3 nursing homes were included in the study. A geriatrician reviewed the medical records of all elderly residents on restraints. Nursing staff interviews were also done to assess their knowledge regarding restraint use. A brief medical record review was also done for the elderly residents without restraints. Results: Out of 390 elderly residents, 91 were on physical restraints. The mean age of these residents were 80.1 years; 67% were female, 90.1% were Chinese and 82.4% belonged to functional category IV. Both urinary and faecal incontinence were observed in 97.8% of residents. Forty-six (50.5%) residents had no documented indication for restraints. It was noted that 20 (22%) residents were restrained to prevent dislodgement of the feeding tube, 17 (18.7%) were restrained to prevent falls and 8 (8.8%) were restrained for agitation. There were documented trials of removal of restraints for only 21 (23.1%) residents. Alternative approaches, such as diversion technique, were used for 31 (34.1%) residents to avoid restraint use. Conclusion: Our study revealed a high rate of restraint use in the nursing homes. A restraint protocol should be available in every nursing home, requiring physician approval for the long-term application of physical restraints and intermittent reviews by physicians to assess the continued need for restraints.

Singapore’s population is ageing rapidly. It is estimated that the proportion of elderly aged 65 and above will rise from 7.2% of the total population in the year 2000 to 18.2% in 2030.1 Increase in life expectancy due to the availability of modern healthcare services has resulted in a large number of functionally impaired elderly citizens living in the community. These older persons require significant assistance for their medical conditions and functional impairments.

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