All manual handling care plans should be tailormade to the needs of the person that carers are working with, whether they live in a residential home or in their own home. Problems start to appear when carers use generalised techniques and apply them to all of their clients.  The risks of getting it wrong are particularly high when the same equipment is used with multiple users, for example at schools, hospitals and care homes.

Many mistakes are also made within community settings where a high level of care is needed and the turnover of carers is high, or if the carers regularly work at other settings.
Common Mistakes

Some of the most common mistakes we see are:

  • Applying the brakes on a mobile hoist whist using it.
  • Not applying the brakes on the chair the client is transferred to.
  • Forgetting to interlock and cross the leg straps when required.
  • Using the wrong type of sling (the wrong type of sling is often chosen because the carer feels it is easier for toileting or bathing).

We encounter numerous situations where a client’s functional abilities have deteriorated and the equipment being used is no longer appropriate; indeed it is often the cause of a substantial amount of pain and physical damage to the client. One of the most common examples of this bad practice concerns standing aids. Clients are provided with standing aids if they are able to bear weight, however over the years many clients lose the ability to push down and stand for any length of time, and standing aids become completely inappropriate.  All too often we see continued use of these aids, at great cost to a client’s health and dignity.

Another common problem we encounter is when carers are not familiar with the correct way to position their clients in their chairs when hoisting them. This is important as many the clients are unable to adjust and self-correct their posture, and once they have been hoisted into their chair they will spend the whole day in the position in which they have been left – for example leaning to one side of their pelvis or slouching. Poor posture is one of the main causes of pressure sores and can cause increased pain in the client’s back and pelvis area.

Probably the most difficult and challenging situation we come across is when we observe family members  lifting and carrying their loved ones; they act out of love and kindness but are putting themselves at great risk of physical damage because they are not aware of the consequences of their actions.

How Can Design for Independence Help?

Design for Independence is experienced at completing both manual handling assessments and providing manual handling training.We are IOSH certified to the level of Train the Trainer for People Handling.