‘The use of hoists has become an integral part of delivering health and social care services’ (1). As part of their role, Occupational Therapists often supply hoists to people in their homes when they are deemed necessary for their care. ‘The introduction of manual handling to a person’s life means they are losing something. This loss can be a significant transition for the person as they come to terms with losing their independence’ (2). This can be a challenging time for OTs as a client and their family may struggle to accept the loss of function.
When issuing a hoist therapists need to adhere to hoist policies and procedures. Here are some more things O.T’s should consider which will help improve this experience for clients and their families:
- Allow adequate time. Allocate yourself adequate time as the issuing of a hoist can take a couple of hours. Advise the client and family about expected length of visit so that they can plan accordingly and nothing has to be rushed. There are many people required for a hoist demo; the client, his/her family members and carers. It is therefore important to arrive early, before the house becomes crowded, to chat with the client and family about why a hoist has been issued and what will happen during the visit.
- Involve family as much as possible. It helps to involve the family as much as possible as this will probably be the first time that they have seen a hoist. It is a very natural reaction for family members to want to avoid the hoist. Encourage them to be present and participate in the hoist demo even if they are not going to be involved in operating the hoist. It is also helpful for the Occupational Therapist to stay on after the carers have left to allow time to go over the process again with just family members. They are the consistent person in the clients home and may have to relay information to many different carers. They are also the point of contact if there are any issues with the hoist so they need to be familiar with all aspects of its use.
- Let the client see someone else being lifted in the hoist first. If the client is very anxious about using the hoist it can be helpful to demonstrate the hoist on someone else first. This will show the client how a hoist works and how safe it is. You could take this opportunity to encourage a family member to volunteer for a quick transfer. Clients often find it very amusing to see their son or daughter hoisted into the air for a couple of minutes and this may help everyone relax around the hoist.
- Supply written information. During a hoist demonstration an OT gives a lot of information and advice, which can be difficult to take in all at once. Provision of written instructions for use of hoist is vital. Occupational Therapists should supply handouts and hoist user manual. Refer family to appropriate websites and videos on-line also. If a family member has a smart phone, ask them to take a video or photo of certain instructions e.g. how to insert sling or attach sling to hoist.
- Arrange a time and date to review hoist transfers before leaving the house. It is vital to return shortly after issuing hoist to observe hoist use again. It is important to address any issues early and re-iterate recommendations.
- “Getting to grips with hoisting people” Health and Safety Executive UK (2011)
- ‘The Manual Handling Revolution’ Aideen Gallagher (2017)