Putting the Patient First

Steve Smith, Projects Consultant at NHG, discusses the importance of patient handling and how to reduce the risk of injuries to patients and staff.

One of the biggest ongoing challenges within the care industry is making patient handling safe for the Patient/Resident, as well as simple and effective for the care giver. Addressing this challenge is paramount as it means the risk of injury can be reduced, whilst avoiding aggravating any existing injuries or conditions.

According to the most recent Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) figures for 2013/14, more than 900,000 working days were lost in the UK due to manual handling injuries. This loss of hours could make a significant impact on the quality of care residents receive, and add yet more pressure on to the care home operator to deliver the required level of care.

Using Lifting Equipment One of the most common methods for moving a patient/resident is to use a piece of lifting equipment. However, tasks, such as moving patients from room-to-room, especially with a mobile hoist, can be cumbersome. Inappropriate floor coverings can make certain manoeuvres difficult and potentially put patients and users at risk of musculoskeletal injuries, which can be caused by any number of factors including equipment failures and user errors.

However, this risk can be significantly reduced by using the ceiling hoist system - technology that provides a host of integrated safety features that improve safety and increase efficiency and comfort for the carer and patient.

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With this in mind, finding a reliable and safe hoist system is paramount to providing the best possible patient care. However, specifying a comprehensive track system that supports effective, safe and quality care is a challenge.

Manual Handling In some instances however, some patients may have to be moved manually without the direct help of a piece of equipment. This is where the risk of injury to patients and staff is at its highest, but there are some easy ways to implement processes care operators can use to reduce this risk, whilst improving the quality of care.

Train to Reduce Injury It might sound obvious, but ensuring all staff are trained to the appropriate standard is key to reducing the risk of injury whilst lifting patients. A lot of local authorities are committed to reducing the health and safety risks faced by care workers and run courses to teach the proper methods for manual handling. These courses include things such as implementing a lifting checklist and making sure the environment is assessed thoroughly before the patient is moved.

There are also pieces of equipment that make the manual handling of patients easier. One very simple thing that can be used is a slide sheet, this specially designed sheet allows patients to be transferred or manoeuvred with ease. It also removes the risk of skin shearing, which can occur when a resident is moved on a rough surface that creates a high amount of friction.

Outside the Box Importantly, residents can have vastly different needs, and a one-size-fits- all mindset rarely works. Solutions need to be developed on a patient by patient basis, ensuring they simplify moving and handling, whilst preserving the patient’s dignity.

In many instances solutions can be customised to further deliver safety, security and comfort. For example ceiling tracks and hoists can be made- to-measure based on the potential user, structural requirements, surrounding area and budgets.

Ultimately, when assessing patient handling processes it’s vital to consider the needs of the potential patients that will be in the care home and how much you will have to assist them with their movement. Talking to a specialist consultant can really help paint a picture of the set up required and what sort of equipment that need to be installed, and where.

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