Importance of Manual Handling in Aged Care & Equipment Used

Importance of Manual Handling in Aged Care & Equipment Used

Manual handling, which involves using physical force to lift, move, or support an object or person, is an essential aspect of aged care. It’s crucial to maintain the safety and well-being of the care recipient and the care provider. 

Imagine an elderly person who requires assistance with daily activities such as getting in and out of bed, using the bathroom, or walking. 

Without proper training, a care provider could inadvertently cause harm to the individual they are trying to help – or themselves. This could include manual handling injuries in aged care, such as strains, sprains, or even fractures. On the other hand, using appropriate manual handling equipment and techniques can reduce the risks involved in injury and improve the quality of care.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the importance of manual handling in aged care and explore the different manual handling equipment commonly used to support safe manual handling practices

aged care employee helping eldery person with walker

Manual handling in Aged Care Tasks

Manual handling is an essential part of aged care, involving a range of tasks that require physical effort and skill to ensure the safety and well-being of both the care recipient and the care provider. 

The Australian Government Department of Health defines “aged care” as “The support provided to older people who need help in their own home or who can no longer live at home.” 

This support includes a variety of manual handling tasks, such as: 

  • Assisting with walking
  • Pushing wheelchairs
  • Helping with sitting and standing
  • Lifting, supporting, or moving patients

Manual handling in aged care also involves adjusting and moving medical equipment such as beds, trolleys, or wheelchairs. 

There’s a requirement for proper technique and appropriate manual handling equipment to ensure the safety of both the care recipient and the care provider. 

Importance of Manual Handling in Aged Care 

Manual handling is crucial in aged care, and there are several reasons why it should be prioritized: 

1. Preventing injury to healthcare workers and patients

Statistics indicate that body stressing is a leading cause of injury in the healthcare industry, particularly among personal carers. 

In the latest report, healthcare workers in Australia made 26,239 serious claims due. Even though they only made up 14.6% of the country’s workforce, they accounted for 20% of all serious workers’ compensation claims during that time.

Using manual handling equipment in the right manner can help mitigate the risk of injury, and particular, body stressing. 

2. Complying with legal and financial requirements

Every employee’s legal responsibility is to ensure their safety and that of others in the workplace. The 2011 Work Health & Safety (WH&S) Act outlines the following expectations for workers in terms of health and safety: 

  • Take reasonable care to ensure their health, safety, colleagues, clients, and other workers. 
  • Immediately report any incidents or hazards related to manual handling to the shift supervisor, including any changes to patient care plans. 
  • Always follow safe manual handling practices and techniques, and use the manual handling equipment according to the comprehensive training received in the workplace
  • Refrain from using drugs or alcohol while at work. 

Adhering to these guidelines is crucial to maintaining a safe and healthy work environment.

3. Improving the quality of care

Manual handling in aged care allows older adults to perform their daily tasks independently. It can help them maintain their sense of autonomy and control.

For example, lifting and transferring patients correctly can prevent discomfort and pain, which can improve patients’ overall well-being and quality of life.

The result? 

Improved mobility and reduced risk of developing health problems such as pressure ulcers, muscle weakness, musculoskeletal injuries, and joint pain. 

4. Reducing staff turnover

As an employer, you know how important it is to keep your team happy so they stay with your company for years. Manual handling injuries can often lead to staff leaving their jobs altogether because they no longer feel safe or are incapable of doing them.

Workplace injuries can result in absenteeism, which impacts the quality of care and increases employee turnover. By prioritizing manual handling, healthcare provider can create a safe and supportive workplace that values the health and well-being of its employees.

aged care employee helping elderly lady in wheelchair

Manual Handling Equipment Used in Aged Care

When it comes to providing care for many elderly patients, having the right equipment is crucial. Manual handling equipment is often used to help lift and move patients safely and comfortably. Let’s take a look at some of the manual handling equipment commonly used in aged care: 

  • Wheelchairs are perhaps the most recognisable piece of equipment used in aged care. They provide mobility for patients with difficulty walking or standing for extended periods. 
  • Mobile hoists are devices designed to lift patients in a sling or harness and transfer them from a bed to a chair, for example. With mobile hoists, caregivers can ensure patient safety and comfort while minimizing the risk of injury. 
  • Ceiling hoists are ideal for lifting and transferring patients in a confined space, such as a bathroom. They are installed on the ceiling and operated by remote control, allowing for smooth and easy patient transfer without requiring manual lifting. 
  • Slings are used in conjunction with hoists to help lift and transfer patients. They come in various designs to accommodate different types of patients and are often made from soft, comfortable materials to prevent skin irritation.
  • Slide sheets are used to move patients up and down in a bed or change the patient’s position while lying down. They are made from low-friction materials, which allow them to glide smoothly over a bed surface, making it easier to move patients without causing discomfort. 
  • Transfer belts help patients move from sitting to standing, such as when getting in and out of bed or a chair. Transfer belts provide a secure grip for healthcare workers to move the patient, reducing the risk of falls and injury.
  • Transfer boards are thin, flat devices placed under a patient’s bottom to help them slide from a bed to a wheelchair or vice versa. These transfer boards are often used for patients with limited mobility or strength, making transfers safer and easier. 
  • Stretchers are a flat, rigid platform used to transport people. It may be used to carry a single person or to carry a person along with other equipment and supplies. These devices are equipped with wheels and handles, making it easier for caregivers to move patients around. 

Training for Manual Handling in Aged Care

Manual handling training in aged care is essential because it helps prevent musculoskeletal injuries that affect the worker’s ability to work and their everyday lives. The nature of aged care work can strain the back, neck, and shoulders, leading to chronic pain and long-term injury.

Proper manual handling training teaches workers how to lift, transfer, and move patients safely, using correct body posture and techniques. 

So, which approach is the best for manual handling training?

Blended training can combine online and in-person training, allowing for a more flexible and engaging manual handling training experience, resulting in more effective learning outcomes. It can also help avoid unsafe manual handling techniques. 

Prioritise Better Manual Handling For Better Safety in Aged Care Facilities

There are two important things related to manual handling in aged care: 

  • Completing manual handling training is essential in aged care facilities. 
  • Equipment in aged care facilities has made manual handling easier. But, it can still be dangerous if the worker is not trained to use the equipment.

Ensure that you’re avoiding risks by ensuring that all employees are trained in both manual handling techniques and how to use the necessary equipment to make their jobs easier and safer. 

Experience the benefits of manual handling training with Cloud Assess by signing up for a free trial for your organisation.

frail care worker helping lady with crutches

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