August 2019


  • This information sheet aims to provide some assistance when considering whether there is a need to use bed rails in order to maintain the safety of a person with disability.  It should be read in conjunction with DCS’ ‘Assistive Technology and Equipment in the Sleeping Environment’ policy (March 2018)
  • Bed rails were designed as a safety device and have been commonly and routinely used around Australia for many years.  However they can also be a threat to a person’s safety by them getting caught or trapped in spaces in or around the bed rail or in falling through attempts to climb over the bed rail.

What is a Bed Rail?

  • Adjustable metal or rigid plastic bars that are a feature of a bed or are added to a bed. They are available in a variety of types, shapes, and sizes ranging from full to one-half, one-quarter or one- eighth lengths. Other names include side rails, bed side rails and safety rails.
  • Disability service providers or funded private person need to consult with an Occupational Therapist (OT) and the Senior Practitioner if they believe there is a need to use a bed rail.

When would the use of a bed rail be a ‘Restrictive Intervention’?

  • Bed rails are considered to be a ‘personal restriction’ under the Disability Services Act (2011) if their use results in the restriction in the freedom of movement of a person with disability.
  • Bed rails have more impact as a physical barrier or restriction for someone who has limited mobility.  Other considerations that need to occur when deciding whether or not a bed rail is restrictive would be whether the person is affected by the visual or emotional impact of the bed rail.

What should I do if the bed rail is a Restrictive Intervention?

  • The use of a bed rail to restrict a person’s voluntary movement is a form of physical restraint and the use of a bed rail for this purpose would need approval from the Guardianship and Administration Board (GAB) via an application to the Senior Practitioner.
  • If there is a risk to the person’s safety and alternative strategies have failed to maintain their safety then a bed rail may remain as the least restrictive alternative available.
  • If the use of a bed rail is approved for use by the GAB staff must increase their monitoring of the person at risk.

When would the use of a bed rail not be a ‘Restrictive Intervention’?

  • The use of a bed rail may not be deemed a personal restriction if:
    • The person has decision making capacity and has requested bed rails;
    • The person has involuntary movements during the night (e.g. seizures or ‘restless’ sleep);
    • The person does not have the skills to get out of bed without support;
  • The list above has only some examples of situations where an application to use a personal restriction may not be required.  If a bed rail is being considered it is essential to consult with an OT and the Senior Practitioner.
  • If an OT and the Senior Practitioner recommend the use of a bed rail as the least restrictive option and it is not a personal restriction staff must still increase their monitoring of the person at risk.

Further Information

Further information about personal restrictions can be found at :

Who can I contact?

The Senior Practitioner:


Phone: 6166 3567

  • Further information about Restrictive Interventions can be found on the RISET Tas link below.

RISET Tas Link Access practice resources and restrictive intervention information via RISET-TAS online: RISET-Tas Link

Please note: The information contained in this document is provided as an initial guide only. It is not intended to be and is not a substitute for legal advice. Service providers should seek their own independent legal advice with reference to the implementation of the legislation.

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