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Saturday 19 October 2019
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Psychiatrists: Caging patients is not best practice

Police at the scene of a rescue operation in Arouca. Photo by Shane Superville.
Police at the scene of a rescue operation in Arouca. Photo by Shane Superville.

PSYCHIATRIST Dr Ian Hypolite said while restraints are used for mentally ill patients, long term restraints and cages are not best practice.

“It is not best practice to keep anyone in a cage. If it’s a cage, we can’t condone anyone being kept in a cage, there are times when someone may need to be secluded, but not in a cage. Cage is for animals not humans.”

Hypolite added that restraints are sometimes used under particular conditions on patients who are aggressive, but again, this is not on a long term basis. His colleague, Dr Krishna Maharaj, told Newsday the use of cages is “an uncommon practice.”

Maharaj added that mental hospitals use straitjackets and hypodermic sedatives to restrain patients who are violent to themselves and others.

“To use handcuffs and other physical restraints is an extreme form of restraint,” he said adding that institutions such as Transformed Life Ministry Rehabilitation Centre should be given spot checks, “especially if they are receiving government subsidies.”

At 1 am, heavily armed police raided the church and rescued 69 people who were found locked up in cages on the compound. Some of the captives were stark naked. Many were elderly and appeared frail.

The police also found and seized handcuffs, batons and Tasers. Six people including a pastor, were arrested and investigations are ongoing. The institution received approximately $7.4 million from the State between 2010 and 2015.

The last cheque payment was dated August 6, 2015. Social media users have described the center as a last resort that assisted them and their relatives who were mentally ill. Some have described the police’s action as “hasty” saying the cages and handcuffs were necessary tools for dealing with the mentally ill and drug addicts.

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