Published on: Thursday 4th July 2019

An innovative project designed to eliminiate the use of ground restraints  for people with a learning disability who display behaviours that challenge has been shortlisted for a Patient Safety Award.

Physical restraint is sometimes used to prevent someone from accidentally or deliberately harming themselves. But, it can be distressing for everyone involved and should only be used as a last resort, when other de-escalating techniques have already been explored.

Our learning disability services are passionate about eliminating the use of ground (face up) restraint altogether, which can be particularly distressing.

Teaming up with a firm called UK Pods Ltd, we equipped The Deacon Unit, our 24/7 assessment and treatment service in Epsom, with purpose built beanbags known as 'safety pods'. Safety pods provide a more grounding , calming and supportive enclosure to support the descalation of situations far more comfortably when people are displaying behaviours that challenge.

After installing the pods in June 2018, the use of ground restraints has reduced from a rate of around one or two a week to zero - and has not been used once in the 12 months since they were introduced.

Other services that use descalation techniques including mental health wards, care homes and dementia wards have recently started using safety pods and other services will start to receive one over the next few weeks.

The use of Safety Pods has now been incorporated into our Prevention and Management of Violence and Aggression Conflict Resolution training and we have been building on this work to co-design a new sensory pod, which creates a space for self regulation skills in a safe environment. 

The partnership between Surrey and Borders Partnership, UK Pods Ltd and Maybo Training Ltd was a finalist in the Best Partnership Solution Improving Patient Safety category of the Patient Safety Awards 2019 which took place in Manchester on 2 July.