If you are a carer looking after someone with limited mobility, it is likely you will need to help them move around. Handling a patient with limited mobility can cause serious injury, therefore it is important to do so safely.
Why is it important to use certain techniques when moving patients?
There are a number of reasons why it is important to use certain techniques when moving patients:
1. To avoid injury to the patient – incorrect handling techniques can cause serious injuries including fractures, joint damage and muscle strains.
2. To avoid injury to the carer – incorrect handling techniques can also cause injuries to the carer, including back injuries.
3. To ensure the safety of both the patient and the carer – using the correct techniques will help to avoid accidents.
4. To make the task easier – using the correct techniques will make it easier to move the patient, which can reduce stress and fatigue.
Common injuries caused by patient handling
Understanding safe moving and handling processes will mean that as a carer you are much less likely to injure yourself or your patient.
The most common injury carers get that are caused by moving patients are back injuries. A back injury will significantly impact your ability to care for your patient and it could take a long time for you to recover.
For the patient, being handled incorrectly can cause neck and shoulder injuries, damage fragile skin, worsen existing breathing problems and cause bruising.
Techniques for moving and handling patients safely
There are a number of techniques that can be used when moving and handling patients safely:
1. Use mechanical aids – using devices such as hoists, slide sheets and transfer boards can help to reduce the risk of injury.
2. Good body mechanics – using good body mechanics when lifting, transferring and positioning patients can help to avoid injuries.
3. Use correct lifting techniques – using the correct lifting techniques can help to avoid injuries.
4. Use team lifts – using team lifts can help to reduce the risk of injury.
Equipment for safe handling
Specialist equipment can assist with moving and handling patients safely. This equipment includes:
Hoists can be used to lift and move patients who are unable to weight bear. There are a variety of hoists available, including ceiling hoists, mobile hoists and stand-alone hoists.
Slide sheets –
Slide sheets can be used to help move patients up in bed or onto a trolley. They can also be used to help turn a patient.
Satin slide sheets are a system of base and draw sheets, using these sheets together makes moving patients easier. They can be used to reposition and move immobile patients.
Transfer boards –
Transfer boards can be used to help transfer patients from one surface to another. They can also be used to help turn a patient.
Positioning aids –
Positioning aids, such as pillows, wedges and rolls, can be used to help position patients comfortably and safely.
Poles can be used to help support patients when moving them.
Bed rails –
Bed rails can be used to help prevent patients from falling out of bed.
Seek help and training
Moving and handling patients safely is important to avoid injury to the patient and the carer. There are a number of techniques that can be used to move and handle patients safely, and specialist equipment is available to assist with this. If you are not sure how to use the equipment, you should seek help and training.