Despite moves to enhance the autonomy of clients of health care services, the use of a variety of physical restraints on the freedom of movement of frail, elderly patients continues in nursing homes. This paper confronts the use of restraints on two grounds. First, it challenges the assumption that use of restraints is necessary to protect the welfare of frail, elderly patients by drawing on a range of data indicating the limited efficacy of restraints. Secondly, it argues that the duty to respect individual autonomy extends to a duty to respect the autonomy of patients who are elderly, frail and living in nursing homes.
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