If you or someone you know is confined to a wheelchair, you know that moving them can be very difficult. Transfer boards and techniques may not be an option for some patients. A person that lacks most or all of their upper and lower mobility will need another method of transfer: a Hoyer lift.
Nurses are known to pick patients up out of bed and put them into wheelchairs, but this isn’t safe.
I have seen, first-hand, how a slip of a hand can mean the patient “falling” into the bed or being improperly placed into the wheelchair. Even if the patient lacks feeling in their extremities, this is not fair to the patient.
Today, we’re going to discuss how to use a Hoyer lift sling.
How to Use a U-Sling
A U-sling is a sling used in many Hoyer lifts, and these models are effective when trying to transfer a person to a toilet. While not used for every patient, these models are easy to use and offer an option of helping a patient relieve themselves on a toilet rather than a commode or in a bed pan.
Who can’t use a U-Sling?
A patient that is in the supine position, or laying horizontally, may not be able to use a U-Sling. These patients will be better suited to use a full-body sling, which is more supportive overall. Again, always make sure that you adhere to this recommendation for the safety of the patient.
The best candidate for these slings are patients that can sit up – even if it’s just a little.
Using the U-Sling Hoyer Lift Sling
The U-Sling is ideal for transfer to beds, wheelchairs, commodes or toilets. The use is simple and straightforward:
- Place the back support behind the patient
- Secure the leg straps around the patient’s legs
- Attach the straps to the lift
- Raise the patient
You’ll want to make sure that the sling is properly placed on the patient before even beginning to operate the sling. Despite their name, a U-Sling is short for universal sling. The reason that sitting up is recommended for these models is because they work best with someone who can sit up, even with very little trunk control.
It’s always easier to use one of these slings if the person is able to sit up on their own, even if this means that they’re only able to sit up slightly.
How to Use a Full-Body Sling
If you want to know how to use a Hoyer lift sling with a full-body or hammock model, you’ve come to the right place. These models aren’t necessarily harder to use, but they take a little more patience.
Who should use a full-body sling?
The full-body sling is ideal for people with severe lack of mobility. A person that cannot sit up will be the best candidate for a full-body sling. Keep in mind that anyone can use these slings, but if a person can sit up slightly, the U-sling is often the faster choice.
Hospitals and nursing home facilities that need to adhere to the highest safety standards will want to use the full-body sling.
It’s safer and more durable, and while it does take slightly longer to use, it’s worth it in the end.
Using the Full-Body Hoyer Lift Sling
Ideal for patients that need a lot of support, the full-body sling can be used by following these directions:
- Place the patient on one side.
- Fold the sling in half.
- Place the folded sling under half of the patient’s body.
- Roll the patient to the opposite side.
- Pull the sling through the other side.
- Roll the patient back on their back.
- Attach the sling to the lift.
The only thing left is to slowly lift the patient using the Hoyer lift.
You’ll want to lift the sling slightly from the bed, and make sure to check the sling to ensure the safety of the patient. It’s important to always make sure that the patient is properly secured so that they never have to fear falling from the sling.
Sling with Chains
You’ll find that some slings have chains. I won’t go into the reasoning for the chains, but I will say that they’re often considered more durable by healthcare professionals. Heavier patients may need to use the slings with chains to ensure that they can safely be picked up in a Hoyer lift.
With that said, the usage is similar to what’s stated above, but it will vary slightly.
- Locate the swivel bar hook on the lift.
- Attach the ends of the chains to the hooks, paying attention to the placement so that both sides are hooked on equal links.
- Attack the S-hooks, counting the links on each side.
- Make sure that the patient’s arms are outside of the hooks when possible.
- Check the position of the S-hooks and chains to ensure proper positioning.
You’ll want to lift the patient slowly as we did with the previous sling type. Always make sure that the sling is in place properly. Patients that are responsive and can communicate should be consulted at this time.
Ask the patient if they feel comfortable and secure during the lift.
Always consider any concerns of the patient – they’re the most important person in the entire lift process. If you do not properly count the links, you’ll notice that the chains do not line up properly. Being off one link may not be a major concern, but several links will make it uncomfortable for the patient.
Now, if you have a different type of sling or additional questions, make sure that you read through the instructions provided by the sling’s manufacturer. All medical personnel should be properly trained in how to use a Hoyer lift.
The Hoyer lift will also come with instructions.
The key most important thing is to make sure that you lift the patient slowly and check the area where the sling attached to the Hoyer lift multiple times. It’s better to be overly cautious than to have a patient fall out of the sling during a lift.
Tim is a professional caregiver who has helped hundreds of seniors gain back their freedom and independence. He has been actively helping the senior community for 20+ years.