No-one should routinely manually lift patients. Hoists, sliding aids, electric profiling beds and other specialised equipment are now available as substitutes for manual lifting. Patient manual handling should only continue in cases which do not involve lifting most or all of a patient's weight. This rules out for example, the shoulder or Australian lift. The Health and Safety Executive advise a balanced approach to managing the risks from patient handling. These include:
- care workers are not required to perform tasks that put them and their clients at risk unreasonably
- client's personal wishes on mobility are respected wherever possible
- client's independence and autonomy is supported as fully as possible.
A patient-centred care plan should include information on immobility and detail any handling risks and/or needs. For more information see Backs! FAQs (2005), on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.