A community learning disability nurse used the Human Rights Act as a framework to help make a best interests decision. The nurse was supporting a woman with a learning disability who was experiencing severe pain from suspected gallstones. The person did not want a blood test and the nurse had to make a best interests decision about using restraint to allow the test. The nurse said:

“I’m uncomfortable using restraint as it has been used to control people in the past but the Human Rights Act gave me the confidence to intervene, knowing that we were taking reasonable steps to protect the patient's right to life and right to be free from inhumane and degrading treatment and that we were using restrictions proportionate to the situation.”

The nurse also challenged hospital staff on their decision to exclude the woman’s family from the best interests meeting using her right to private and family life. This made a real difference because the service-user had a close, trusting relationship with her brother and he was able to support her during the interventions, minimising the impact of restrictions on her physically and psychologically.