Home Health & Hospice

Insider’s Scoop | Lifting and Transferring

Homecare Insider, September 21, 2015

Editor’s note: In honor of the National Council on Aging’s convening of the eighth annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day on September 23, this week’s Insider’s Scoop features safe lifting and transferring techniques courtesy of HCPro’s 40 Essential In-Services for Home Health: Lesson Plans and Self-Study Guides for Aides and Nurses, reviewed by Elizabeth I. Gonzalez, RN, BSN. The wildly popular 2014 title is a completely revamped version of Beacon Health’s 24 Essential In-Services for Home Health. This jam-packed update features 24 revised and 16 additional in-services to offer timely lessons on more essential home health topics than any other product on the market. With coverage ranging from HIPAA compliance and professionalism to rehospitalization prevention and infection control, this resource helps both home health aides and nurses satisfy Medicare’s annual requirement of 12 in-service training hours many times over. For more information or to order, call customer service at 800-650-6787 or visit www.hcmarketplace.com
Caring for patients with limited mobility tends to involve a great deal of lifting. You may need to assist these individuals from the bed to chair or wheelchair and back again. At times, you may need to help someone up who has fallen onto the floor.
Improper lifting and transferring technique can increase the risk of falls and injury, jeopardizing the health of your already fragile patients, not to mention your own physical wellbeing and future ability to work.
To reduce the chances of such fallout, practice preventive care, an approach that encompasses:
  • Good posture
  • Stretching and exercise
  • Lifting and transferring skills
  • Proper lifting devices
  • Teamwork
In addition, incorporate the general best practices described below into your daily care interactions. For a more expansive discussion of viable lifting and transferring techniques, as well as a variety of other timely clinical training topics, purchase 40 Essential In-Services for Home Health: Lesson Plans and Self-Study Guides for Aides and Nurses today.
General lifting and transferring techniques
When lifting and transferring, the most important consideration is safety for yourself and the patient. In addition to contending with preventable declines in a patient’s condition, frontline healthcare workers can face serious back, shoulder, and neck injuries as a result of poor habits in this arena. The following are some tips to reduce the strain on your back and the possibility of injuries for all parties involved in lifting and transferring interactions.
  • Plan the job. Move anything that is in the path.
  • Ask for help and use teamwork. Discuss with your colleagues what you plan to do beforehand and what you are doing during the lifting or transferring event.
  • When appropriate, use additional equipment, such as a mobility aid or gait belt.
  • Maintain the correct posture: Keep your back straight and knees bent. If you must bend from the waist, tighten your stomach muscles while bending and lifting. Bending your knees slightly will put the stress on your legs instead of your back.
  • Never twist when lifting, transferring, or reaching. Pick up your feet and pivot your whole body in the direction of the move. Move your torso as one unit. Twisting is one of the leading causes of injuries.
  • Maintain a wide base of support. Keep your feet at least shoulder width apart or wider when lifting or moving.
  • Hold the person or assistive object close to you, rather than at arm’s length, an approach that can minimize the effects of the outside weight on your body.
  • Push rather than pull—a movement that is easier because your own weight adds to the force.
  • Use small, repetitive movements when shifting large objects or people. For example, move a person in sections, starting with the upper trunk, followed by the legs. This technique is easier than lifting entire things or people in one fell swoop.
  • Always face the patient or object you are lifting or moving.
  • Always tell a patient what you are planning to do, and find out how he or she prefers to be moved.