Care home employees are required to carry out a range of tasks that involve moving clients from one position to another. For example, from lying down in a bed to sitting in a chair. Clients also need to be moved to provide them with assistance with normal daily activities including bathing, dressing and eating.
There are laws and regulations (manual handling legislation) that govern how this should be carried out safely. Plenty of guidance is provided by the Health and Safety Executive (1). Incorrect moving and handling procedures leads to the risk of manual handling injuries in employees including back pain. It also presents a risk to clients. Unfortunately, nursing and care staff experience higher rates of manual handling injuries than most other occupations (2).
Safe manual handling practice in care homes is all about applying common sense. It involves completing risk assessments for every lifting task, choosing the right hoist or other lifting equipment and ensuring that it is used correctly. Here, we set out the top 5 tips for maintaining safety when using hoisting equipment.
#1 Start by describing the manual handing task in detail
A comprehensive assessment of each lifting task will include an in-depth consideration of the client and their individual needs. This can be compiled from observations and interviews. How often does the lift need to be completed? Are there alternatives that could be introduced? What are the risks involved for the client and for the employees?
#2 Identify the range of equipment that could help with each task
There will be several equipment options to choose from for each task. When choosing the correct equipment for the task, you will need to consider the individual needs of the client. The choice should be made after considering a full assessment and consideration of their care plan. Some potential options include turntables, mobile hoists, and electric profiling beds.
#3 Consider the staff involved
Don’t forget that lifting involves people as well as equipment! Think about how many people will be required to carry out the lift. What sort of training has been completed? Are monitoring and supervision in place to ensure that staff are adhering to safe practices during the lift?
#4 Focus on the environment where the lift will take place
The location of the lift is also vital. The size of the area is important as this will influence which hoists can be used. The strength of structural elements is crucial for the installation of ceiling hoists. Slip and trip hazards in the vicinity of the lift should also be assessed.
#5 Maintenance and monitoring is crucial
Your procedures will need to be constantly monitored to make sure that they are working. All equipment needs to be regularly checked and serviced to make sure that it is good working order. Staff will require on-going training. You cannot simply set it up and forget about it. This will be an on-going process.
- Health and safety in care homes. HSE https://www.hse.gov.uk/pUbns/priced/hsg220.pdf
- Abedini R, Choobineh AR, Hasanzadeh J. Patient manual handling risk assessment among hospital nurses. Work. 2015;50(4):669-75. doi: 10.3233/WOR-141826. PMID: 24448012. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24448012/