To examine the perceptions of nurse managers, registered nurses and healthcare assistants of physical restraint use on older people in a long-term care setting in the Republic of Ireland.

The use of physical restraint, although controversial, persists in long-term care settings, despite recommendations for restraint-free environments. Perception and attitude of staff can influence use of physical restraint.

A descriptive cross-sectional design was used. A total of 250 nursing and healthcare assistant staff were recruited. A questionnaire incorporating demographics and the Perceptions of Restraint Use Questionnaire was used. Descriptive and inferential statistical analyses were conducted.

Mean age of respondents (n = 156) was 41 years, and the majority were female. Overall, a low level of importance was attached to the use of restraint. Nurse managers and registered nurses compared favourably with healthcare assistants who attached a higher importance to use of restraint. Across all three staff groups, greatest importance was attached to the use of physical restraint for reducing falls, followed by prevention of treatment interference. Restraint was least favoured as a means of impairment management. Education was not an explanatory factor in perceived importance of physical restraint use.

Nurse managers and registered nurses are unlikely to use physical restraint. However, there is concern regarding perception of healthcare assistants on use of restraint.

Implications for nursing and health policy
Results from this study compare favourably with those in countries that have no policy on physical restraint use. Educational programmes alone are insufficient to address use of physical restraint. Attention to skill mix with adequate support for healthcare assistants in long-term care settings is recommended.

P. Leahy-Warren RPHN, RM, RGN, Hdip PHN, BSc, MSc (Research), PhD, V. Varghese PGDip, RGN, MSc, M.R. Day DN, MA, H.Dip PHN, BSc, Dip Mang (RCSI), Certificate Teaching (Harvard), RPHN, RM, RGN, M. Curtin RGN, RSCN, MSc(econ), PhD
International Nursing Review, 9 February 2018
DOI: 10.1111/inr.12434