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How To Know If Your Care Recipient Is Safe To Stand & Won’t Fall

How To Know If Your Care Recipient Is Safe To Stand & Won’t Fall

Assessing For Weight Bearing Is Called An “On-Bed Screen”

Sounds complicated, right?  An on-bed screen?  You’ll be delighted to hear that it isn’t!  It’s actually an incredibly simple and unbelievable useful way of assessing your care recipient’s ability for weight bearing and, therefore, their safety.

This is where our discussions about the risks of falls and manual handling start to come together.  You’ve gained an understanding with us here at iNightingale that falls pose terrible danger to your care recipient.  Falls often require hospitalisation.  They often result in injuries to hips and knees.  Falls become increasingly common as we age.  And they become harder to recover from, as well.  An aged person who has fallen and sustained an injury can, on average, expect it be to six months before they recover to their pre-fall functioning.  If there is ever something to avoid, then this is it.

But it isn’t just your caree that requires advocating for.  It’s you, too.  Back and musculoskeletal injuries in health care workers and caregivers are terribly high.  And terribly debilitating.  And these happen to professionals who receive annual training in the latest patient manual handling techniques.  Caregivers in the home have a drastically increased chance of injury simply because they are unaware of the techniques used to prevent injury.

Starting to think about caregiving within a risk framework will be a lifesaver.  There are many risks when getting your patient up out of bed.  The risk of their sustaining a fall.  The risk of you sustaining a musculoskeletal injury.  Neither is necessary.  Both risks can be reduced.

But it requires assessment.  Of all the skills that nurses possess, this is the one that separates us as caregivers.  Our ability to assess and make informed decisions on the basis of that information is how we do what we do.  All the skills, knowledge and techniques come after the assessment.  But we have to know what is needed first, then we implement our range of skills to fit that problem.  This is the most important concept that we can impart onto you: assessment skills.

In our “People Moving People” learning package, we go through the technique of performing an On-Bed Screen.  This assessment allows you to identify your patient’s physical capacity of weight bearing.  That is, their ability to hold themselves up and not physically relying on the caregiver to do the weight bearing.  This On-Bed Screen determines the risk of their falling.  But it also identifies their area of weakness.  Their weight bearing ability may not simply by related to the strength in their legs.  There are a number of core strength components that goes into weight bearing by a person’s frame.  As the caregiver, know which is the weak link will help you work around the problem.

You might feel you know their mobility capacity: but it will change constantly.  This assessment skill will keep you abreast of their changing weight bearing status and reduce risk.


Nic Nash-Arnold has been nursing for twenty years. She has nursed thousands of patients, mainly in the operating theatre. Nicole has worked in both public and private hospitals in Queensland. Ten years ago, she left the “coal face” of nursing and moved into a Nurse Educator role and then a series of senior and executive hospital administration roles. Nic has always believed in the empowerment with education. That might be empowering nurses to provide better care or patients to take better care, but education is always the centre of the solution. Google 

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