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Dangerous use of restraints persists at homes for disabled

Six years after falling under fire for immoral and restrictive treatment of persons with disabilities, the state of Minnesota still harshly disciplines persons with disabilities living in assisted facilities, according to a Minneapolis Star-Tribune report.

Disciplinary practices include strapping patients to furniture and secluding them, and are enforced for infractions as minor as touching objects that caretakers don’t want touched, according to The Star-Tribune.

A federal court monitor filed a 57-page report last week that probes into the states treatment of its 35,000 persons with disabilities in 1,300 state-licensed programs, homes and facilities, the Star-Tribune reported. The state could come under disciplinary action itself, now.

More than 900 people with disabilities were restrained as a form of disciplinary action in the last 14 months, according to the report. The report detailed 70 of those cases that involved patients being left secluded, and 40 others during which patients were mechanically restrained, the Star-Tribune reported.

The Star-Tribune also reports that over that time period 289 patients were subjected to prone restraints, a technique that involves holding a patient’s face to the ground. The reports surfaces even though prone restraints are banned in state facilities because of their danger.

“It is reprehensible that we are still allowing providers to engage in practices that are universally condemned and potentially fatal,” Roberta Opheim, state ombudsman for mental health and disabilities, told the Star-Tribune.

In one situation, a disabled woman was left strapped to a chair for nine hours per day for months. She was not allowed food or bathroom breaks, according to the Star-Tribune.

In another case, a disabled woman was strapped by her shoulders, waist and arms to a metal chair for up to nine hours per day. Again, this woman was not allowed food or to use the bathroom.

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