Continued drop in seclusion rates in mental health facilities

The use of seclusion in public acute hospital services is continuing to become less common, according to information released today on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's (AIHW) Mental Health Services in Australia website.

The public release of seclusion information today by the AIHW coincides with their release at the 9th National Seclusion and Restraint Reduction Forum being held in Canberra.

Seclusion is defined as confinement at any time of the day or night alone in a room or area from which free exit is prevented.

The AIHW made national seclusion information available for the first time in July 2013, and this information extends the period of available information to 2012-13. It shows that there were 9.6 seclusion events per 1,000 bed days in public acute hospital services in 2012-13 - a decrease from 10.4 in 2011-12. 

'Seclusion rates have continued to fall-from 15.5 events per 1,000 bed days to 9.6 events per 1,000 bed days between 2008-09 and 2012-13,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Pamela Kinnear.

'This represents an average annual reduction of 11.3% over the 5 year period.'

Jurisdictional rates ranged from 0.9 seclusion events per 1,000 bed days in the Australian Capital Territory, to 19.7 in Tasmania in 2012-13.

'Seclusion rates fell for most jurisdictions between 2008-09 and 2012-13,' Dr Kinnear said.

'The Australian Capital Territory reported the greatest annual average reduction in seclusion rates over the 5 year period, followed by Western Australia. However, data from smaller jurisdictions should be interpreted with caution, as small changes in the number of seclusion events can have a marked impact on the jurisdictional rate.'

Nationally, child and adolescent units had a higher rate of seclusion events (14.5 per 1,000 bed days) compared with general units (10.3) in 2012-13.   

However, these rates are also falling, with a drop of 3.9% between 2008-09 and 2012-13.

'This is a good result' said Professor John Allan, Chair of AHMAC's Mental Health Safety & Quality Partnership Standing Committee. 'There is more work to be done but these findings show that a national commitment to reducing seclusion rates in mental health facilities across Australia is paying dividends'.

The AIHW's Mental Health Services in Australia website is available at http://mhsa.aihw.gov.au.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 26 November 2013

For further information on seclusion data: Dr Pamela Kinnear, AIHW, tel. (02) 6249 5096, mob. 0421 600 377

For general information about seclusion practices in Australia: Assoc Prof John Allan, Chair of the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council (AHMAC) Safety & Quality Partnership Standing Committee, tel. (02) 9391 9121