Is it acceptable to use a harness to help support someone’s upper body if they consent to its use? | QCS

Is it acceptable to use a harness to help support someone’s upper body if they consent to its use?

Rachel Griffiths
Answered by Rachel Griffiths

This is a huge question and the answer about whether the harness is acceptable cannot be the same for everyone.


Let’s start with what ‘acceptable’ means. Firstly, it must mean the harness, or any other intervention, is physically safe for this individual, and will not be harmful or cause them pain or discomfort. But ‘acceptable’ in this context also means an intervention that brightens their lives by enabling someone to do something that they want to do, such as enjoying the care home’s garden in lovely weather, or perhaps a longed-for trip with family or friends to a café or pub.


The questioner is quite right to put the person’s consent at the heart of their question. If the person has capacity and provided there is a safe way to support them physically to do what they want to do, the provider should do all they can to make it happen.  It is good practice to ask for advice, from the person’s physiotherapist or other health professional, about the best way to take this person outside.


And, even if the person lacks capacity to give their consent to something like this, it might well be in their best interests to be taken out in the fresh air, as long as it can be done safely. Care providers and relatives together should always try to find ways to provide care that enlarges someone’s horizons, makes them happy, and gives them as full a life as possible.

About Rachel Griffiths

Rachel has huge experience and knowledge in the area of Mental Capacity, including how to recognise deprivation of liberty, when and how to assess capacity and how to go about making decisions in someone’s best interests. She is nationally recognised as a leading voice with regards to Mental Capacity, and is involved with setting the agenda as well as providing advice and information about Mental Capacity. The information, guidance and support that Rachel provides helps to ensure that the way people work is within the law and recognises that the person using services is always at the centre of any decisions made.
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