Moving and handling of the elderly at home

Caregivers in elder care are involved in moving and handling activities such as moving equipment, laundry, catering, distributing supplies or assisting patients/residents in moving. The moving and handling of people is a regular task, which if not done safely, can cause serious injury to the carer and service user.

Risk of poor moving and handling techniques

If not carried out ergonomically, manual handling activities can lead to serious physical injury, to you and the person you are moving.

  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most common injury caused by non-ergonomic manual handling practices. Like back pain and upper and lower limb disorders, including aches, tenderness and stiffness in the legs, hips, shoulders, neck, and joints.
  • The person being moved may also suffer from damage to fragile skin, cuts, grazes, bruises, if they are not handled with care.

Managing risk of moving and handling risk

If risks from moving and handling are to be managed successfully, the following are keyways to minimize them:

  • Recognition of the risks
  • Commitment to introducing precautions to reduce that risk.
  • Arrangements for training and providing / maintaining equipment.
  • Arrangements for monitoring compliance.
  • Avoiding those manual handling tasks that could result in injury.
  • Assessing the risks from moving and handling that cannot be avoided.
  • Putting measures in place to reduce the risk, where reasonably practicable.

Safe moving and handling techniques

The main reason for approaching moving and handling ergonomically is to avoid physical injury. If you know how to handle people and objects safely, and can follow the correct pushing, pulling, lifting, lowering, and manoeuvring practices, then it will safeguard the wellbeing of both you and the person you are moving. The following tips highlight the ergonomic ways to carry out manual handling of people tasks safely:

  • Use of moving and handling equipment may reduce the risk of injury. The type and amount of equipment needed will vary according to the specific needs of care service users.
  • When lifting, moving, and assisting elderly adults, you need to use good and proper body mechanics to reduce the likelihood of injury to yourself or the other person.
  • When moving a person reclining in bed, be aware of your competencies. Communicate with the adult as much as possible as you move around the room and position yourself and the person.
  • When lifting a person from a bed, be aware of your abilities and limits. Communicate clearly with the person as much as possible as you position yourself and them.
  • When using an assistive technology and specific adaptive equipment like mechanical Lifts, ensure to have a therapist or equipment company demonstrate the specific lift to you first, so that you will understand the safety steps involved.
  • Ensure that supportive footwear is in place. Discourage slippers or sandals which are not strapped around the heels.

Our caregivers training course will provide you with an introduction to safe manual handling practices so that you know how to carry out an individual risk assessment, use equipment safely, reduce the likelihood of developing musculoskeletal disorders and always keep your service users comfortable.

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