This story ran on Thursday in the DM. The article opened with:
"Thousands of restraining orders are being taken out on dementia patients and the alarming practice appears to be increasing, official figures have revealed....This can include locking residents in their rooms overnight, sedating them or even tying them to chairs – all of which, critics said, denies them their basic human rights."
I agree with the critics. Such treatment is indeed an infringement of human rights and I am appalled by the extent of such practices. While some may protest against this, arguing that it can be extremely difficult to look after patients with dementia (and somehow attempt to justify such approaches), it is important to stress that the right to be free from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is an absolute right which means that it cannot, under any circumstances, be justified. Precisely because of the difficulties and complications in caring for people with dementia, is is extremely important to ensure that they are treated with dignity and their right to autonomy is respected. This blog has noted in the past that under staffing in care homes is often a root cause of poor care provision but we must continue to stress that it is absolutely unacceptable that patients/residents should suffer due to failings in the system.
The DM, (despite its lack of support for the HRA), has actually been doing some good work to highlight the widespread neglect and maltreatment of the elderly in hospitals and care homes through its Dignity for Elderly Campaign (See link above for more info).
It is also worth mentioning an article in today's Telegraph which links directly into the above story, entitled, 'five dementia sufferers die everyday from 'chemical cosh' drugs. According to Beckford, the Health Correspondent, "[m]any more hospital patients and care home residents suffer strokes triggered by the antipsychotic medications they are given to keep them sedated." The data used in this report is from 2009; I wonder if statistics are higher today given the recent rapid decline in the care system...
Full story can be read at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8652593/Five-dementia-sufferers-die-every-day-from-chemical-cosh-drugs.html