Ask Sheila - Archive England

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and therefore is no longer available to answer your social care questions. However, you might still find the answer you’ve been searching for down below.

21st August 2020

Can a resident be restrained in a wheelchair for safety?

For safety purposes, can a resident be in a wheelchair with a strap?

Hello J

Thank you for getting in touch. Lap straps help with the safe management of positioning in wheelchairs. They help provide stability and can reduce the risk of slipping and tipping in people with poor independent postural control. They do however restrict active movement. Therefore you need to think about the use of a wheelchair lap strap in the context of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards ( Dols) and Mental Capacity Act. If a wheelchair user with mental capacity consents to the use of their wheelchair lap belt because they feel safer and more secure, then there is no issue with this and you can document the discussion along with your risk assessment and include it in the care plan. If someone with capacity does not consent to use a lap belt, however, then they must not be forced to, even if everyone else's opinion is that they would be much safer and/or more comfortable if they did use it. To make them it will be unacceptable restraint and abuse. For people who are assessed as not having the mental capacity to give their consent then the use of a lap belt to restrict their movement may also be justified in some circumstances, provided the decision has been demonstrably made in their best interest. It is important you document all decisions, carry out a risk assessment and where you think a Dols applies, contact your Local Authority DoLs Team for advice. I hope this helps.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

About Sheila

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and over the years , prior to her retirement she has answered thousands of your social questions. You can still access the many questions below.

For Sheila Scott OBE as the former CEO of National Care Association (NCA), care is Sheila's life. She possesses a strong command of the issues facing the care sector informed by her long career as a nursing professional, the owner and manager of a care business, and as a leader in the care sector.

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