In June 2002 the Government issued long‐awaited guidance on the use of restrictive physical interventions. The need for the guidance was recognised in the White Paper, Valuing People, and its publication is anticipated in both the recently published National Care Standards and the 1996 Education Act. It represents a clear and unambiguous commitment by government departments to work together to improve practice across a range of services for adults and children with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders, and for pupils with a range of special educational needs. The guidance is particularly addressed to staff working with adults and children with learning disabilities (including those with autistic spectrum disorders) and to those in special school settings responsible for pupils with severe behavioural difficulties associated with learning difficulties and/or autistic spectrum disorders. It will also be relevant to staff in schools which make provision for pupils with severe emotional and behavioural difficulties. This article describes the development of the guidance, the areas of practice it covers and its implications for managers, professionals, staff working directly with service users and family carers. It will do this by attempting to answer six questions. Why do we need new guidance on the use of restrictive physical interventions? Who will be affected by the guidance? How was the guidance developed? What does the guidance say? What needs to be done to implement the guidance? What still needs to be done?
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