There’s every likelihood that at some point you’ll need to help the person you care for to move. Of course their safety is very important but then, so is yours. It’s essential that you know how to move people properly so as to avoid injury (to both of you).
There are many and various scenarios where you might be called upon to help move somebody. Perhaps it’s part of a daily routine of getting somebody out of bed – or even in more acute circumstances, after a fall for example.
It isn’t uncommon for carers to become injured as a result of the physical aspect of caring, with the most frequent issues being back injuries. Although it might be tempting to ‘carry on regardless’ it can be foolhardy to do so since a back injury can severely impair the carer’s ability to perform their duties – and of course, there’s no pain quite like back pain. Here then, is our list of tips for carers…
Do they really need your help to move? If somebody can move themselves, even if slowly, it might be better for them to do it themselves.
Think about the risks to the person you’re about to move. Lifting someone incorrectly can damage fragile skin, cause shoulder and neck injuries, increase existing breathing difficulties or cause bruising or cuts.
If you are lifting someone on a regular basis it’s best to get trained in how to do it properly. Watching and practicing good technique is the best way to learn. (In the meantime look at some of the ‘how to’ videos online to see how it’s done.)
Your local authority has an obligation to help carers avoid health and safety risks. They may run training courses on manual handling and may be able to provide equipment to make caring for someone safer and easier.
You should know your limits (and operate within them). With this in mind find out how heavy the person you lift is and whether, realistically, you should be lifting them at all. Equipment such as a hoist will make things so much easier and safer in many cases.
Do you really need to lift the person on your own? Perhaps other people are around who might be able to help you.
Do you have room to lift the person in a safe way? Again, it may be that you don’t have room to adopt the correct technique. Portable hoists and other equipment might be the (safe) answer.
Lifting not only requires thought regarding technique but about the other variables such as what you’re wearing, especially footwear (which should be flat and relatively sturdy) and even your surroundings (floors may be slippery etc). Consider the whole operation from start to finish and how exactly you’re going to do it before you commence.
If you have assessed the situation and have decided to move the person make sure you never lift above shoulder height, make sure your feet are stable, take a firm hold and keep any weight close to your body.
Lift (as smoothly as possible) keeping your back straight and bend your knees.
Your local authority has a responsibility to consider your needs as a carer and the needs of the person you care for. You should arrange a carer’s assessment to ascertain if you are eligible for further support.
(For advice and guidance on moving and handling, ask for an occupational therapy assessment.)
Before purchasing any equipment, get advice from a healthcare professional such as an occupational therapist or a social worker and try equipment before you buy it, ideally, in your own home.