Let's talk about Restraints

This online resource was jointly developed by Disability Sheffield, Active Independence and the Sheffield Individual Employer and PA Development Group, and was funded by Skills for Care.

During 2015 we undertook a research project into the subject of restraints. The initial milestone was a report, which can be read in full here.

The findings of that report led to this website, which was launched in March 2016. Its aim is to encourage and facilitate carers, personal assistants and individual employers to navigate the difficult subject of restraint.

Restraints? What's that then?


I know what restraints are. Tell me how to help!


The word “restraint” refers to anything that prevents somebody doing something

It's as simple as that! Although the term can refer to almost anything, there are six distinct categories...

Physical Restraint
Mechanical Restraint
Chemical Restraint
Financial Restraint
Restricting choices
Withholding information

Restraints raise issues that are unique to every individual and every situation. This is why it can refer to almost anything. Here are just a few examples we were told of during our research...

  • An elderly person might need bed rails to prevent them falling out of bed in the night
  • Someone with Alzheimer's may need key pads for their doors to stop them leaving the house and getting lost
  • Electronic tracking devices use global positioning technology as a way of locating a person with dementia if they are lost
  • Grabbing someone’s arm
  • Deep seated chairs that prevent people from getting up without support to stop them wandering
  • Anti psychotic medications used to treat people who are experiencing an episode of psychosis
  • Being left waiting for help
  • Belts to help disabled people sit upright in a wheelchair and prevent them falling out
  • Leaving someone in dirty, soiled clothing
  • Holding to prevent self-harm or harm of others
  • Not being able to go outside and engage in community activities
  • Putting things out of reach of someone who has limited mobility

Watch the video

The Social Care Institute for Excellence made this very informative video on the subject of restraints.

It doesn't focus specifically on PAs, but it covers lots of interesting points and important considerations.


Restraint is not widely understood, despite it impacting the lives of many thousands of people. In fact many people aren’t even aware of the need to discuss it.

Even among those who do understand the issue, restraint remains a very sensitive subject and it can be very difficult to discuss.

We need to raise awareness, remove barriers and actively encourage everyone to start conversations that will improve lives.

Tackling the issue

percentage of care practitioners who told us restraint was an important issue
percentage of personal assistants who said they'd recieved some training in restraints
percentage of family carers that had received no training in restraints whatsoever
percentage of individual employers who don't know where to find restraints training

We need to improve things

We want to encourage carers, PAs and individual employers to have frank, positive and rewarding conversations about restraint.

Be sure to discuss these issues whenever they arise


Make sure restraint issues are written into care plans


Jointly agree how everyone will respond in a crisis


Download and share our information leaflet

Get the flyer (PDF 1MB)


Run a training session in your area

Get the toolkit!


Spread the word and get people talking

Post on social media

And remember, restraint is not a dirty word!

Share this

Thanks for reading!

This project was delivered by...

With thanks to the Sheffield Individual Employer and PA Group.