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Avoiding Drugs as Chemical Restraints: Stories

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This page will include stories of good care without drugs as shared by long-term care residents, family members, and friends advocating to prevent the misuse of antipsychotic drugs in their nursing home and ensuring they receive quality long-term care. 

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When I was a long-term care Ombudsman my program held trainings on chemical restraints. Our trainer made the point that most residents who acted out did so in response to a stimulus and if the staff took the time to discover what keyed the resident, they could then eliminate much of the disruptive behavior.

I filed that away somewhere in my mental database and a few years later I used it when my father was in the hospital. In the middle of the night my dad had walked toward the door of his room and somehow pulled down the TV set that hung on the wall.

His doctor, a reasonably cautious man, told us he wanted to order Haldol. My alarm went off and I said, “Tell you what. I’ll spend some nights with him in his hospital room. If he gets restless beyond control, I’ll ask for the Haldol. Otherwise, don’t have it administered.” The doctor and hospital staff agreed (skeptically, I am sure).

The first night in the room, I woke up to my dad struggling restlessly. I’m sure he was not far from becoming a problem. Then I noticed he had slid down in his bed and his legs were bent; his feet were against the footboard; and I went immediately to the nurse. Together, we pulled my dad up to the top of the bed and he relaxed and slept. I arranged with the nurse that I might call on him again that night. After a few hours, I called the nurse again and it worked. After that, the nursing staff checked on him periodically and worked their magic. All went well and they never used the Haldol.

Family member and Long-Term Care Ombudsman