Measures Restricting Freedom - Laws

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Measures Restricting Freedom - Laws
Measures Restricting Freedom - Laws

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Video: Measures Restricting Freedom - Laws
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Patient rights & freedom-restricting measures

During stays in hospitals or nursing homes, the condition of patients can sometimes lead to their need to move around and endanger themselves or others. The Residence Act (HeimAufG) regulates the conditions under which measures restricting freedom are permitted.


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  • Admissibility of restrictions on freedom
  • Who needs to be notified?
  • Resident Council

The Residence Act applies in retirement and nursing homes, facilities for the disabled, day centers, but also in hospitals if people with a mental illness or a mental disability are cared for there. In the psychiatric wards of hospitals, on the other hand, the Accommodation Act applies. You can find out more about the Accommodation Act under “Patients' rights in psychiatry”.

Examples of restrictions on freedom are:

  • Obstacles to leaving the bed, e.g. by belts, net bed or bed side parts,
  • Obstructing getting out of the wheelchair or getting up from an armchair, e.g. by using belts or a forward table,
  • Obstructing leaving a room, e.g. through locked doors, or
  • Administering medication to calm you down (sedation) that prevents you from moving.

The Residence Act regulates how to proceed in the event of restrictions of freedom, ie by whom they may be ordered, how they must be documented and to whom they must be reported.

Admissibility of restrictions on freedom

Restrictions on freedom may only be made if the following conditions are met at the same time:

  • There is a mental illness or intellectual disability (e.g. dementia), your own life, your own health or the life and health of others are endangered in connection with it.
  • The restriction of freedom is essential and appropriate to avert the danger.
  • The danger cannot be averted by other measures, and the measure that restricts freedom is the mildest means.

Measures restricting freedom can or must be ordered and lifted again by a doctor or a nurse. Who is responsible for the order is determined in the Residence Act and depends on the type of restriction of freedom and the respective situation (Accommodation and Residence Amendment 2010, Section 5).

Who needs to be notified?

The head of the facility, the resident council, the representative of the person concerned (e.g. trustee) and - if available - the person concerned must be informed about the restrictions.

Independent residents' representatives ensure that the right to the greatest possible freedom of movement is upheld. They are trained by the trustee associations. Your task is to stand by the residents and mediate between them and the care team. You visit the affected people and talk to the care team. The aim is to jointly assess whether the restriction of freedom is necessary or whether there are alternatives in a special case. If there is no agreement regarding the measures, there is the possibility of judicial review of the restriction of freedom.

Resident Council

The following associations are responsible for representing residents:

  • Representation network (active in eight federal states)
  • NOELV (Lower Austria Regional Association for Guardianship and Resident Representation)
  • Institute for Social Services (Vorarlberg)
  • Association for guardianship (relief agency Salzburg)

Additional Information:

  • You will find the legal text of the Residence Act in the legal information system of the Austrian Federal Chancellery.
  • You can download the brochure “Residence Act - Information about Resident Rights” from the website of the Association's Representation Network.

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