One of the more common activities associated with home care is lifting. Lifting any body, whether it’s heavy or light, requires using good technique. Even the smallest slip can have potentially dangerous consequences for you or your client. That’s why it’s essential to understand lifting techniques for home caregivers.
Why Proper Lifting is Vital
Most caregivers underestimate the risk of lifting. When you lift a client’s body, you must use proper form — not just for your sake but also, so the client doesn’t fall or get injured. Properly lifting your client ensures safety for both of you.
Another reason proper lifting is vital is that it prevents injuries and strains to your body. You can injure your neck, back, or shoulders during improper lifts.
If you get injured, you might have to take time off of work, and you surely won’t be able to lift your clients again until you heal.
Finally, proper lifting is essential because it instills client trust in you. When you go to lift your client, they should feel confident that they are safe. If they have bad lifting experiences with you, they are less likely to trust you or feel confident in your abilities.
Now that you know why a proper lifting technique is critical, you’re ready to learn how to achieve it.
Lifting Techniques for Home Caregivers
Because of the importance of safely lifting clients who can’t move on their own, there is a well-proven technique to use to keep everyone involved safe.
To correctly lift your clients:
- Know Each Approach. How you lift a client depends on where they are and how much they can help. For example, lifting a client from a wheelchair to a bed isn’t the same as vice versa. Be sure you understand and practice each method your client will need help with.
- Communicate. Use direct communication and simple instructions before and during the transfer. Ask for your client’s preferences, explain what you’re going to do and how you will do it, and keep your client engaged the whole time. If possible, have your client help a bit by pushing with their legs.
- Have Adequate Tools. Tools can make the lifting process much safer, and often, insurance will cover the cost of these. Tools that can help include transfer boards, lift beds, sling lifts, and powered lift chairs.
- Use Proper Body Mechanics. When you’re lifting your client, a proper posture is essential. To practice this, you can keep your mind on your posture day in and day out. The more you practice a proper posture, the more naturally and easily it will come.
- Keep Your Spine Straight. Twisting your spine can cause injuries to your back. Don’t twist your torso while you work. Instead, turn in small steps to change direction, keeping your spine straight.
- Pivot, Don’t Twist. Just like you shouldn’t twist your spine, you shouldn’t twist your hips, either. Instead, pivot your body slowly with small steps, making sure there’s no twist in your body.
- Bend at the Knees. When lifting someone, it’s important to ensure your back is not generating any force. To do this, make sure you’re not bending at your waist but bending your knees instead.
- Use Your Legs. When you bend your knees, you make sure all the force comes from your legs. Always lift with your legs. To do this, squat and push up with your heels.
- Move Slowly. Rushing the lifting process will often result in issues and injuries. Move slowly, giving plenty of time in each position throughout the process.
- Keep Your Client Close. Your client should be close to your body. This positioning gives you more stability throughout the lifting process and allows you to use some of their weight to balance against your own, keeping you both stable.
- Don’t Pull Your Client’s Arms. When lifting your client, lift them by the hips rather than pulling their arms. Pulling their arms can result in injury.
Now that you understand the basics of lifting, we’ll outline ways to prevent an injury to your body.
Strategies to Prevent Caregiver Injury
Even when you use proper lifting techniques, lifting your client can be difficult. There are things you should do to prevent yourself from being injured.
To prevent caregiver injury:
- Maintain Your Health. Exercising regularly can ensure your body is in top physical condition, which will help you more easily lift clients and avoid injuries. Some of the best exercises to make sure you can lift properly include: squats, lunges, step-ups, deadlifts, and push-ups. These will strengthen your arms, core, and legs— all of which will help you lift properly.
- Seeking Training. There are many online and in-person training opportunities to help you learn how to lift clients properly. Take advantage of them.
- Practicing Movements. Practice makes perfect. You can practice the movements without a client to ensure you know what movements to make and in which order. When you feel more confident, you can ask a family member or friend to let you practice lifting them.
Lifting your clients can be nerve-wracking, but with proper techniques, practice, and fitness, you can handle it.
Start your Career at Providence
We’re looking for hard-working, compassionate caregivers like yourself to join Providence Home Care. Our goal is to treat all of our clients with dignity, respect, and compassion — and properly lifting and moving them is part of that mission.
You can make a difference at Providence Home Care, while still making sure you’re achieving the work/life balance you desire. Connect with us today to get started.