Being a caregiver is a challenging job. Not only can it be emotionally draining, but it can also take a physical toll. This is why it is important to be aware of certain tasks and situations and put good practices into place to ensure the safety of your patient as well as yourself.
We have all had a situation where we have lifted something that we thought we could manage that turned out to be just the opposite. This is something always to be aware of when providing care. It is imperative to follow proper lifting techniques, which are crucial for caregivers to prevent injury to themselves and those that they are caring for.
Before you attempt to lift a patient, there are a few things that you need to be aware of. The first thing to consider is the patient’s height, weight, and medical condition. Their mobility is also a factor, and you have to take these considerations to your strength and capability. The ideal situation is if your patient is cooperative and physically able to offer some assistance. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If the person lacks mobility or they are uncooperative, it can make for a difficult situation. In such cases, specialized equipment may be necessary to move or lift them. There are many products available, such as hoists, slide boards, and transfer belts, that can make this task much easier. Trying to lift a patient who is too heavy or lacks mobility can cause accidents that can leave you both injured.
Once you have assessed the situation and decided that you will be able to make the lift, make sure to position your feet shoulder-width apart to provide a solid and balanced stance. This provides a stable base when lifting. When you are in the proper stance, bend at your hips and knees to lower yourself to your patient. Never bend at the waist! Doing so can cause serious injury to your back. Make sure to keep your chest up and your back straight; this will avoid putting excess strain on your lower back.
Hold the patient as close to your body as possible to reduce strain on your back. Have them hug their arms around your neck to keep them close.
We’ve heard this a million times, and there’s a reason for it! Tighten your abdominal and lower back muscles when lifting. Think of bracing your core as if you were about to be punched in the stomach. This will protect your back by stabilizing your spine.
The muscles in your legs are much stronger than your back muscles; use that power to lift. Straighten your back and push through your legs and heels while lifting and standing using the strength in your leg muscles.
If you need to turn a patient, make sure not to twist your back. Doing so can cause injury. While keeping your patient close to your body, use your feet to pivot toward the direction you need to go. This will help you turn your body and the patient without putting excess strain on your back.
If you are working with another caregiver, discuss how you plan to move the patient with them before attempting to do so. Communicate with them and coordinate your actions. Make sure to agree on your plan and synchronize your movements. This will prevent accidents while ensuring patient safety and comfort.
These tips will help keep you and your patient safe. It’s a good idea to ask a healthcare professional for any advice on patient lifting. It’s also very important to listen to your own body. Anything that feels painful or uncomfortable should be a sign to you to stop immediately and reassess the situation. Taking the time to make any necessary adjustments is crucial for you, your patient, and anyone else who may be helping you.
Proper lifting techniques, along with teamwork and communication, are essential for a caregiver to maintain their well-being and provide safe and comfortable care for their patients or loved ones.
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Linda Guerrera is the Digital Content Manager for Health Products For You. As an award-winning media professional, she has spent her entire career as on on-air radio personality, program director, voice-over artist ...
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