Patient lifting is a common daily task in most healthcare institutions but you may be surprised to hear that some care staff are not fully aware of all the features a sling enables.
The most common connection point seen on the straps of a sling is a fabric loop, which is wound onto a lifting hanger/spreader bar that possesses steel hooks. This is also the most flexible solution, as the facility will not only have a large range of sling options at their disposal, but there is a higher likelihood the existing hoist equipment will be usable in the instance a client brings their own sling to the facility.
Have you ever noticed there are multiple loop options on a sling? We commonly see care staff misunderstanding this concept by saying “there are long loops for tall people, and short loops for short people”. In reality, these loop options are in place so you can affect the tilt of a client once they are up and suspended on a hoist. At the end of the day, a carer will always know where they are about to transfer their client. Are they moving to a toilet or shower commode? Are they moving back into bed? Or a princess chair?
Picking the correct loop for the appropriate transfer will save time and client comfort, but also reduce the risk of unnecessary and awkward manual handling if the client is tilted in the wrong position. Technically, if the wrong loop is chosen, the care staff should lower the client back onto the bed, re-loop, then start the transfer again.
A couple of scenarios:
- If a client is being transferred to a toilet commode, the best option would be the shorter loops at the back that will lead to them being fully upright (in a ‘seated position’). This will allow the carer to lower the client perfectly over the hole in the commode so they are in the correct position. If the carer incorrectly chose the longer loops at the back, the client would be leaning back which results in the backside being on the tip of the commode and not over the hole as intended.
- If a client is returning to bed at night, the best option would be the longer loops at the back that will lead them to leaning back in the sling. This ensures a smooth transition as the hoist strap is lowered, as the client only has a short journey down to their final position on the pillow. If the carer incorrectly chose the shorter loops, the client would be sitting fully upright in the bed, and would then recline down onto the pillow. The end result is the same, but some clients have described this as a ‘free falling’ feeling so it makes for a much smoother transfer if the begin the process leaning back.
Such is often the case, picking the correct loop comes with practice and experience. The best loop option will be forever changing based on a clients body shape and the mobility available, but understanding the feature and forward thinking to your transfer destination will provided a carer with more time to care.