Since one of the major issues caregivers face in assisted living facilities is the frequent heavy lifting of residents, a hydraulic Hoyer lift can definitely make a huge difference. However, these devices need to be operated with extreme care, especially when it comes to elderly patients since they cannot recover easily if anything goes wrong.
In case you are wondering whether these types of lifts are allowed within an assisted living facility, the answer is ‘it depends’. Such institutions can offer a wide range of levels of care, options, and diversity of services, but they are usually subject to state regulations, rather than federal ones.
For this reason, if you want to make sure that the facility you are interested in uses such devices in their daily operations, you should first check with the local authorities and see if there are any particular regulations you should be aware of, and then confirm the information with the facility itself.
If you are thinking about choosing such a facility for a family member, you probably also want to see what other services they offer, so paying a visit and talking to the management is always a good starting point.
Types of lifts
Given that many times nursing homes and assisted living facilities need to use mechanical lifting equipment for patients with various conditions, there are several options available, therefore it’s good to know a little bit about each one. More importantly, any type of such equipment needs to be properly used by trained caregivers in order to render the desired benefits.
In case such a facility has inadequate resident lifting rules and policy guidelines, or if the caregivers are not sufficiently trained, injuries can occur, and most of the times they have serious outcomes. In an assisted living facility you can find two main types of lifting devices, both of which require a very strict adherence to every safety rule.
The first option is a sling lift, which is also known as a Hoyer lift. This device ensures that patients are being transferred between their bed and a chair, or another similar resting place, using technology that includes hydraulic power.
The other type of lift is a sit-to-stand model, specially designed to help those dealing with limited mobility who still have some ability to move. In many situations, what they lack is the strength or the necessary control to stand up on their own from a wheelchair or a bed.
Why is it important to properly use a Hoyer lift?
You might be wondering “What could go wrong when using a Hoyer lift?”. The answer is many things. One of the main concerns when using such a device is the risk of falls. These are a major concern in assisted living facilities, since patients, especially elderly ones, cannot move in order to protect themselves if they fall.
This means that the results of such an incident can be far greater than in the case of a younger or healthier individual. When it comes to elderly patients, any sickness or injury can be much more serious due to the many aspects involved, such as the limited ability to recover, or subsequent complications.
Many times a Hoyer lift requires two operators for a proper and safe use. However, if such a requirement is not followed, there is a high chance that something might go wrong when doing otherwise normal movements, such as unhooking one side of the sling. If two operators are not present, this element could strike and hit the patient, causing serious injuries.
Additional risks are taken when a Hoyer lift is chosen when a sit-to-stand mechanical system should be used instead. Since they have different ways of being operated, there is a significant associated risk if one alternative is chosen over the other when there is not enough personnel present to properly operate them.
Unfortunately, there is a number of cases in which patients have had to deal with various and very serious conditions due to a poor lift handling, which is one of the reasons for which certain facilities might not allow their use altogether.
What this means for you is that you should double check the services offered by the facility you are considering, and see if you can determine whether caregivers have the appropriate training to assist patients using lifts.
Falls and their risks
You might not be aware of this, but some studies indicate that around 1,800 patients living in nursing homes die each year due to falls, while each year an institution with 100 beds reports anywhere between 100 and 200 falls.
This gives you an idea of just how exposed patients are to this type of accident, mainly because they lack the ability to move and react properly. Given these statistics, you can see why it’s crucial for the caregivers to have the appropriate training in order to know exactly how to operate each equipment and how to react in any situation.
Another thing that is good to know is that patients tend to fall more than once, so each individual housed in an assisted living facility can fall on average 2.6 times per year, according to some statistics.
Each facility should carefully consider what type of equipment to buy, as well as what it takes to ensure safe patient handling. This means making a comprehensive assessment of both the workers’ needs and of the nature of patients. Moreover, establishing ongoing evaluations and improvements is another crucial aspect when it comes to this matter.
For this reason, if you have a family member in such a facility, don’t hesitate to ask all the details on the training caregivers get, as well as on previous situations when improper maintenance or handling took place and how this situation was dealt with.
Keep in mind that improper training of staff is one of the most dangerous factors that contribute to potential injuries, therefore you should try to assess a nursing home’s services and personnel as accurately as possible before placing a loved one there.