Behind closed doors: a Carer’s perspective of Seclusion and Restraint

What really goes on behind the closed doors of an inpatient unit?

Usually, we are incredibly grateful that the person we love is safe and can begin or continue their journey to recovery.

We ‘Carers’ – aka people who are family, friends and supporters – don’t always know what happens when we’re not there, but we do know what we have experienced firsthand. Sometimes – but not always – we hear of incidents where seclusion or restraint have been used, more often it’s only whispers. And we do observe the consequences.

And sometimes we identify newly formed dark patches and we are reminded that hospitalisation for any mental illness is also a traumatic experience.

We can also recognise the differences when our own input has been taken seriously and when it has, to all intents and purposes, been dismissed.

What strategies do we employ when there is a crisis at home, when the use of neither seclusion nor restraint is an option?

As individuals and as a society, what do we think of the use of violence as a mechanism for control?

How do we initiate and implement our own de-escalation strategies so that they serve their purpose without permanently damaging our most precious relationships?


TERP focuses on identifying, avoiding and reducing harm across all environments in which the care of people with mental ill health is provided. TERP inforces Australia’s commitment to reduce the use of, and eliminate restrictive practices as a priority for action. Each jurisdiction, in conjunction with the Safety and Quality Partnership Standing Committee and the Commonwealth Government, works towards this vision by holding a series of forums providing an opportunity to learn and grow from local and national initiatives to eliminate restrictive practices and create a dialogue for future care.

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