Providing care for an individual who has limited mobility can be a dangerous task if not done carefully.
Being unaware of the proper techniques for safe handling can result in serious injury. Even trained caregivers, paramedics, and personal support workers (PSWs) report high rates of musculoskeletal injuries as a result of overexertion during patient transfer.
If you or someone you know is caring for an individual who requires assistance with mobility, here are some tips for safe handling that can prevent unnecessary injury.
Before attempting to move someone:
- Consider your own mobility and strength. Will moving them risk injuring you?
- Ask someone to help you if you cannot assist them on your own.
- Be aware of any obstacles in the space (i.e. objects, pets, small children) and have a plan for moving around them safely.
- Make sure you are wearing suitable clothing and shoes. (Especially if you are on a slippery or damp surface).
- If using equipment to help move an individual, examine it first to ensure it is functional.
- Let the individual know that you will be moving them and explain what you are going to do before you begin.
Once you have assessed the situation and decided to move the individual:
- Make sure you never lift above your shoulder height.
- Keep any weight close to your body.
- Be sure your feet are stable.
- Keep your back straight and bend your knees.
- Lift as smoothly as possible and use equipment to help you if needed.
Remember, transferring a loved one should not put you at risk of being injured. If you are unable to transfer your loved one without harm, consider hiring patient transfer professionals who can transfer your loved ones safely.