Minnesota Significantly Reduces the Use of Restraints.

Incidents of restraint, seclusion and other restrictive measures dropped from 8,602 two years ago to 5,124 due to changes in state law and a massive effort by state and county officials to prevent the use of restraints.

Minnesota was involved in a federal class-action law suit initiated by individuals and their families, living at Extended Treatment Options (METO), which resulted in a legal settlement. Minnesota changed state law in 2014 to prohibit a long list of restrictive procedures, and the state Department of Human Services launched an unprecedented outreach and training effort across the state. The agency created a special team to train staff at facilities for people with disabilities on identifying the individual needs of their clients, and to de-escalate situations without resorting to restraints. The state also required providers to report all incidents of restraint and seclusion; including emergency use of manual restraints, or the use of seat belt clips when transporting a person. The state also began issuing licensing violations against providers that didn’t comply with the law.

“This is a paradigm shift, and something that we have wanted to see for a very, very long time,” said Roberta Opheim, of the state Ombudsman Office for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. Tighter enforcement, combined with increased awareness from the METO lawsuit, led to a “change in thinking,” said Alex Bartolic, disability services director at DHS. “We drew a very hard line in the sand,” she said. “We decided that we no longer wanted to do things that caused people pain and humiliation.”