How Do You Know if Someone is Safe to Stand?
Manual Handling is a common term amongst health professionals, but possibly not amongst the general population. It refers to any task that is performed that requires a physical involvement such as pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying or moving an object*. Or in our case, a person.
And that can be challenging and risky. Consider you are a woman barely over 5 feet and weigh 50kg in your sixties. You are the primary carer for your hefty 130kg husband who has dementia and has recently had a total hip replacement. Daily tasks will be difficult: getting him out of bed, guiding him safely to the bathroom, repositioning him in a chair to protect the hip may be tasks that, at best are challening; at worst – impossible. And this is before one considers when something untoward happens, like a fall, and managing the instinct to save him or break the fall. The risks of her sustaining an injury are very real.
The occupational hazards that are inherent in patient care is a good warning signal. Nursing history tells the story about the risks that are associated with manual handling. The physical and repititive force used to manoeuvre patients results in a gradual onset of injury, and the “nurses’ back” was a ubiquitous condition amongst us all. Despite our training, our injury rates are alarming. One study in Australia found that 51% of the 955 participants in the study had been injured. Several studies have found consistency with this statistic.
Preventing injury is about three factors: knowledge, design and equipment. Here at iNightingale, we’ll cover these. Knowledge is about understanding a range of techniques to effectively assist in moving your patient without the use or limiting the use of physical force. Design is ensuring that your environment is favourable to allowing you to perform these manouvres. And equipment is about accessing hoists and other devices to eliminate your manual effort and rely on the machine to do it for you.
Here, we’re talking about one of many technique to ensure safe manual handling. Establishing your patient’s capacity to bear their own weight is a critical skill to include in your arsenal of manual handling techniques. Certainly as many patients’ capacity will change over the course of time. Our 130kg friend who has had their hip replacement: his mobility will improve over the 3 to 6 month post operative period. However, others paths will be different. A patient living with terminal cancer: their mobility will decline. A patient living with MS: their mobility may change constantly. The technique to assess your patient’s level of mobility today will protect you from injury.
People Moving People – 8 ways to proper lifting technique
To learn more on safe manual handling, back care and proper lifting technique, take a look at our learning package that is designed for informal caregivers. The spouses and daughters and family friends who are out in our community delivering incredible care to someone in need are the ones that need just as much education about protecting their back from injury and their care recipient from falls as anyone in the caregiving game! A series of video demonstrations that provide simple How-To’s on the best ways to proper lifting technique. Available now for A$149
Kay, K (2011) “Debunking the manual handling myth: An investigation of manual handling knowledge and practices in the Australian private health sector” International Journal of Nursing Practice, 17(3), 231-7.