Hoists play an essential role in health and care settings. They are used for transferring people with limited mobility from one place to another. In choosing the correct type of hoist for a particular task, the Health and Safety Executive make it clear that the needs and safety of the care service user and the safety of employees must be taken into account. It is also important to choose the right type of hoist for the task.
Typically, people need assistance in the bedroom (for getting in and out of bed) and in the bathroom (for bathing and using the toilet) and for sitting, standing and walking in general.
There are plenty of different types of hoist to choose from including mobile and bath hoists. A standing hoist is used when a service user who can weight bear has lost balance or does not have sufficient strength to stand without assistance. It is a useful aid for manoeuvring service users from one place to another safely and with dignity.
Potential risks when using a standing hoist
As is the case with all lifting equipment, things can go wrong when a standing hoist is used. The main risk is presented by falls and this can cause an injury to both the person being lifted and the care giver.
A number of injuries are caused by selecting the wrong type of sling (either too large or too small) or by selecting a sling that is not compatible with the hoist. Other falls can be caused by poor maintenance, leaving a vulnerable person unattended and moving the standing hoist over difficult surfaces.
Most of these risks can be considerably reduced by preparing for the lift and staying alert whilst it is taking place.
Tips for assessing the person to be lifted
Make sure that a standing hoist is the most suitable hoist for the individual. Assess their abilities and the needs of employees before making a choice of hoist. As part of this, a handling plan should be put together – expert advice may be needed for this.
A handling plan will set out the individual’s abilities, views and preferences as well as the abilities of the employees assisting them. It should also include details of the activities where assistance is required – this could be a transfer from a bedroom to a bathroom, a transfer from a bedroom to a dining room or a range of other activities. It is important that the plan is clear and easy to read. It will probably include technical and operational details such as the specific equipment that is needed including required attachments, the number of employees and the lifting techniques.
Tips for managing employees using the lift
The key to success is to share the handling plan with all employees that will be involved in lifting tasks. This will ensure that they know how to handle the individual safely. An even better option is to use their input when you are preparing the plan.
Appropriate employee training is also essential – both in general lifting techniques and in how to use a specific standing hoist. The training will make employees aware of their responsibilities relating to following a safe system of work, reporting of issues and protecting the health and safety of those around them. Typically, training will include:
- Practical training on lifting skills
- Equipment selection
- Principles of lifting
- How to implement individual handling plans
Putting together a lift check list
The best way to ensure that the lift is carried out safely is to compile a check list for standing hoist tasks. This will be a list of everything that should be completed before the lift is started. Some examples of what to include in the checklist are:
- Check that the handling plan is current
- Ensure that all employees have read the handling plan
- Check that the right hoist has been selected
- Review the care service receiver’s condition
- Check that the weight limit of the hoist will not be exceeded
- Ensure that all employees have been trained
- Check that the hoist and sling are compatible
- Check for any visual defects in the hoist
- Carry out manufacturer’s recommended pre-use checks
- Ensure employees know the emergency lowering procedure
- Provide enough handlers for the lift
- Free the environment around the lift site of obstacles
- Make sure that the floor surface is suitable
Tips for during the hoist lift
During the hoisting procedure, keep an eye out for anything going wrong with the methods or the equipment. If you do spot something, return the hoist to a safe position and report your concerns immediately. It is important to maintain communication with everyone involved throughout the procedure.
The comfort of the person being lifted is also a priority so check on this frequently. They may need reassurance and they may wish to be involved. Never leave an individual unattended in the hoist.
Final tips for using standing hoists
Standing hoists can only be used for individuals that can reliably weight bear through their legs. They must have enough upper body strength to enable them to balance. They must also be able to co-operate and use their own physical strength in the lift.
Particular care must be taken if they have issues with their knee joints or skin on their legs that is vulnerable to injury.