Keeping Caregivers Safe
If you’re caring for a dependent loved one you owe it to them and to yourself to maximize both your own and their safety. With a combination of safe lifting techniques and the proper transfer system you can reduce your risk of injury and still provide the safe and secure transfers your loved one needs. The most common injuries to occur in caregivers are musculoskeletal and back injuries, at the professional level 12 out of 100 nurses in hospitals and 17.3 out of 100 nurses working in nursing homes report either of these injuries as a direct result of their every day work load and patient transfers.* If nurses with countless hours of training and experience are susceptible to a high rate of musculoskeletal and back injuries the average caregiver for a loved one faces a much greater risk of becoming injured as a result of improper transfer technique and the lack of proper transfer aids.
Nearly all patient transfer related injuries can be prevented with the proper use of transfer aids and slings. By reducing the amount of manual transferring and handling of your loved one you greatly decrease your risk of developing musculoskeletal and back injuries. In the hospital setting it is manageable for four or more nurses with the use of a draw sheet to turn, transfer and maneuver even bariatric patients however in a homecare setting where it may be only a single caregiver weather it is a nurse or a loved one the same tasks become nearly impossible and extremely hazardous to the caregivers health. Due to frequent understaffing in hospitals and nursing homes it is also not uncommon for an individual caregivers to find themselves in similar situations. The patient you are caring for may need to use the toilet, be transferred from a chair to a bed or even moved for an emergency situation without being able to wait for aid from another caregiver. This now puts that Nurse or other professional caregiver at the same levels of risk for personal injury as the caregiver in a homecare situation if the proper transfer equipment is not available.
When you are caring for a loved one at home, personal injury often is not only devastating to yourself but also to the person who relies on you. If you lose the ability to safely transfer your loved one, not only are you now in need of assistance, your loved one may be forced to enter a nursing home, or to bear the financial burden of full time private in home care. All transfers can be done safely by an informed caregiver with the proper equipment. A wide variety of slings lifts and transfer aids are available to make the transfer process as safe and comfortable for both parties as possible. Several systems like the Maxi-Move eliminate the majority of manual lifting and allow you to transfer your loved one around your home safely.
Using the slings designed for your loved one or patient’s level of dependency can make every transfer simple, safe and injury free for both the care giver and the dependant. Most slings available are easy to maintain, come clearly labeled either with color coding or a tag and have multiple support points for the patient. Soft materials are used to avoid abrasion with the skin that can cause shear in many elderly individuals. These slings in junction with several simple techniques allow for safety and comfort on the patient and the caregivers end of the transfer. Many variations are available to facilitate a controlled roll of the patient without the strain on the back doing this manually would cause, as well as to lift / separate arms and legs for cleaning and other necessities. These specialized slings are equally useful in the medical facility and the home care settings, allowing one caregiver to provide safe transfer as well as efficient hygiene routines and other functions
Friction reduction devices like the “sally tube” can work independently or in juncture with a draw sheet. Allowing easy maneuvering of dependants on any surface these devices greatly reduce the amount of effort needed to slide a patient or loved one from one bed to another or just to a more comfortable position. They come in reusable and single use varieties as well as a plethora of different sizes.
Take it from a therapist, the owner of Bridgeway Independent Living Designs as well as a physical therapist with his masters in physical therapy from Marquette University and accreditations in MPT, CAPS and CEAC shares his opinion on injuries specifically spinal cord injuries related to improper patient transfers: “Today’s lifting technology offers individuals the ability to perform safer transfers with fewer caregivers. It is imperative to protect both the assistant and the individual being cared for by selecting the best and safest lifting aid available. We strive to improve and protect the lives, safety, and independence of individuals and their caregivers.”
Bridgeway Independent Living Designs offers many homecare and medical facility solutions for transfers, from friction reducing devices like the Sally tube to slings and lifts. Call us today for free information. Or send us an e-mail with your questions, comments or concerns.
WI: (262) 671 – 2032
IL: (847) 453 – 8866
* http://www.fit2wrk.com/clinics/fit2wrk/_forms/ARTICLE_Fit2wrk_ClinicalEd_vol1-17.pdf page 1, paragraph 1