Shock greets revelations of bound disabled man

The National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) has expressed shock over reports of a man diagnosed with autism and Down's Syndrome who had been bound by the arms for a large part of his 25 years in care.

“I have never heard of anything like it. Our investigators and inspectors are very experienced, but all have been deeply shocked. This treatment is illegal,” said Christer Neleryd at the board on Thursday.

The suspected maltreatment of the man, who lives in sheltered housing accommodation (Assisted Living Facility – ALF) in Malmö, was uncovered when inspectors called by unannounced, after staff had sounded the alarm.

The man has been diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, displays autistic traits, is blind, and is unable to speak.

As he was considered to be at risk of self-harm, the supervising physician instructed that his hands be bound behind his back by tying his jumper at the elbows with a sock.

The doctor had no right to prescribe the measure, the welfare board has concluded.

“Coercive measures may be taken in an emergency and for short periods. This situation is not close to meeting the criteria,” said Christer Neleryd.

The welfare board furthermore argued that the fact that the man had become agitated on occasion, including hitting and cutting himself in the face, could not be considered to have presented a danger to his health and well-being.

The board has found that the measures used to keep the man bound were applied routinely and thus do not constitute an emergency situation.

The district of Hyllie has been instructed to ensure that immediate measures are taken to ensure that the practice ceases without delay, with a report submitted by November.

“We will then have a look at what they have done, and see if we are satisfied. If we are not then it could impose an injunction, including a fine if necessary,” said Christer Neleryd.

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