Each month, the Research Council Steering Committee features an APNA member. This month, we are featuring Dr. Diane Allen!
I became increasingly aware of the dangers associated with restraining individuals during more than twenty five years of registered nurse practice at New Hampshire Hospital, an acute psychiatric inpatient setting. As a direct care nurse, I was privileged to work with registered nurses who restored calm by communicating and connecting with people experiencing psychiatric crisis. As a nurse leader, I observed registered nurses demonstrate kindness and competence while assessing the health and safety of individuals who had to be restrained. I collaborated with nurses from around the world as chair of APNA’s Council of Safe Environments, Workplace Violence, Violence Prevention, Seclusion and Restraint Position Paper and Standards of Care. As a nurse administrator, I spent years collecting and analyzing data related to nursing practices that make a difference to individuals experiencing distress. I have become convinced that registered nurse presence is, by itself, a powerful therapeutic tool that is often underrated.
My DNP research project, Decreasing Duration of Mechanical Restraint Episodes by Increasing Registered Nurse Assessment and Surveillance in an Acute Psychiatric Hospital (2020), 10.1177/1078390319878776, showed that the duration of mechanical restraint episodes was significantly decreased when a registered nurse provided 1:1 psychiatric intensive care during the crisis. This outcome was achieved without increasing registered nurse hours per patient day. I want my legacy to be promulgation of this simple idea: when an individual is so sick and so dangerous that they must be physically held or tied down, then the high risk for injury or death warrants psychiatric intensive care via continuous direct support and assessment by a registered nurse. Registered nurses already have the skill, knowledge and authority to provide this level of care. Nurses in New Hampshire have demonstrated that they can do it by working together and supporting one another during emergencies.
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Posted on behalf of the Research Council Steering Committee