Just as it sounds, a patient lift enables the patient to be lifted and transferred safely, usually between a bed and a chair, and with as little physical effort as possible. Being able to use this type of mobility lift may enable people who are temporarily or permanently disabled to stay in their own home with assistance from family members or other caregivers rather than having to move a nursing home.
Time and effort are needed to safely use patient lifts —and to first learn how to use it. Transferring someone with a mobility lift does take between three and six minutes, longer than moving a patient by hand. However, using a patient lift is a safety measure that improves both caregiver and patient safety by preventing patient falls and protecting the caregiver from strain injuries due to heavy lifting. A patient lift also reduces the number of people needed to make a bed to chair transfer. Use of this mobility device becomes even more important when the patient weighs 300 pounds or more, and a bariatric lift will be needed to properly support the patient’s weight.
Many patient lift designs are sling lifts—often called a Hoyer Lift, the brand name of the first of these mobility devices—that use hydraulic power. Using a sling or Hoyer lift involves placing the patient on a sling made from a piece of special fabric that can hold his or her weight while suspended in air. The fabric sling is usually attached to a metal frame with a series of hooks or clips. Sling mobility lifts usually have a wheeled base that requires space on the side of the patient's bed during transfer.
Different sling designs are made to accommodate a variety of needs and because of this slings are usually sold separately from the lifter itself. For instance specialized patient slings are available for toileting transfers; others offer additional head support. It is important to get a medical assessment of the patient's size, weight and medical condition in order to select the proper sling.