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A resident's lifting device experience

October 11, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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I do not suppose that anyone wants to be lifted with a device. I was certainly in that group. Even though I am quadriplegic, I had only been lifted with a sling lift once when I was in the hospital. It had not been a pleasant experience because it was not done correctly. I learned that not all nurse aides know how to properly use lifting devices, but I did have my home health aide at that time show me how the sling lift should be used with the full-sized pad.

When my previous facility decided to become “no lift” to protect both staff and residents, I was required to be lifted with a sling lift for all transfers. I was not very pleased with that decision, and I was not given any instruction by therapy on the way it would be used, but I had to go along with it.

The first time the facility's aides and nurses used a sling lift on me they did not use the full pad. I had never seen the short pad that they put behind my back, under my thighs, and crossed between my legs. I was quite fearful. I sincerely hoped that they were using the sling lift correctly.

I had never seen a resident raised from the floor with a sling lift. But I was assured that the facility's heaviest lift would do the job with no problem. They lifted me from the floor and placed me on my bed. The battery powered lift moved quite slowly with no jarring or noise.

But the first time that lift was used to put me on my shower chair, it was a different story. I wondered how the aides would get the straps out from under my thighs without pulling me out of the shower chair. It had a short seat and I could not scoot back into it.

I told the aides that they would need to be extremely careful moving the lift pad from behind me. I could have easily been pulled off balance or out of the shower chair and onto the floor. It took some practice before the transfer to the shower chair was comfortable for me.

Each morning the aides put the lift pad under me by rolling me from side to side. Some aides pulled me to a sitting position and dropped the lift pad behind me. The rolling made me achy and sore. Using the sling lift also took a lot more time.

Then the aides lifted me on to the shower chair, which was rolled over the toilet. The sling lift pad was the short one that can be easily removed for toileting and showering. I did like that because I did not want to have to wait for the pad to be washed and dried before I could use it again. I also did not have to worry about the lift pad showing when I went out shopping for the day.

Over time the aides got more adept at moving me. But they decided early on that the battery powered sling lifts were too temperamental. Instead they used the manual lift because it lifted me higher and it always worked. I liked the fact that the manual lift was dependable. But riding in it bumped me because it had to be hand cranked. It also could be lowered quite quickly, which could be a bit scary.

I felt like a total captive being transferred this way. The lift's straps blocked my peripheral vision. Riding in the lift also made me dizzy and queasy. Because I was not standing at all, I had no sense of gravity. The only thing I did with my legs was push on the foot rests to help the aides move me back in my power chair.

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As a quadriplegic, I transferred to and from a hospital bed to a wheelchair for over 20 years using the "stand-pivot" transfer using only one person to help me. No "LIFT" required.

After I moved into an assisted living facility (temporarily) it was decided that it would be best to use a manual Hoyer lift. But this was ONLY to get me from my bed to my chair.

Both myself and all of my home health care aides preferred the "stand-pivot" transfer to and from bed. So I was transferred into my chair USING THE MANUAL LIFT but always transferred from my chair to my hospital bed WITHOUT A LIFT. A simple technique used and proved safe for both parties (myself and my home health aide).

Now, 12 years later, my manual lift is not safe to use anymore because the hydraulics could fail at any time. So I am now using an electric lift (with sling) to transfer from my bed to my wheelchair. It is big, it is bulky and it takes two persons (excluding myself) to place me properly in the chair using the lift.

I have lost some independence by having to do this. Or, rather, my husband is now limited in his comings and goings because HE has to be one of the persons available when it is time for me to transfer into my chair using this electric lift. He does not mind it and cares for my safety but it has limited him (and therefore us) greatly.

No easy answers it seems.

Lori

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Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...