Is Manual Handling Necessary in Aged Care?

With the increasing concerns about work-related injuries in aged care facilities, the question arises: can aged care facilities operate safely without manual handling? 

Manual handling tasks involve lifting, carrying, and transferring residents, putting both caregivers and residents at risk of injury.

Manual Handling in Aged Care

The term ‘Manual Handling in Aged Care’ is used to describe the physical assistance that healthcare workers give to elderly patients to perform various tasks. 

The tasks range from simple movements such as helping an elderly patient to stand or sit to more complex ones like transferring a patient from a bed into a wheelchair.

For a variety of reasons, this practice is important in the patient's care. 

One of the most common reasons that elderly people have mobility issues is due to their age, illness, or injury. 

It’s difficult for elderly patients to perform daily essential tasks independently. 

This includes everything from basic hygiene to simple cleaning. 

Manual handling is crucial in helping these patients maintain their dignity and comfort by providing the necessary physical assistance.

Manual handling for aged care is also important for injury prevention and to avoid health complications.

Providing this physical assistance, healthcare workers prevent patients from falling or putting undue strain on their bodies, which can lead to serious injury and compromise their health. 

Manual handling is an important part of providing compassionate, effective care for our elderly, despite its risks and challenges.

Manual handling tasks in Aged Care

  • Transporting, moving, lifting, or supporting patients.
  • Repositioning or changing wheelchairs and trolleys.
  • Walking assistance.
  • Pushing a wheelchair; helping to withstand up and sitting.

Manual Handling Hazards in Aged Care Work

For care worker:

  • Physical injury or strain, such as muscle strains or back pain, caused by lifting or moving residents with awkward body positions or who are very heavy. 
  • Repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Burnout or psychological stress, which affects the health and wellbeing of the caregiver.

For residents:

  • Cuts, bruises, or sprains. These injuries are caused by being moved or lifted improperly, or by falls or other accidents during the handling process.
  • These injuries are serious for residents who are frail and have mobility issues. These injuries can lead to additional health problems or a decline of their overall wellbeing.

The Role of Manual Handling in Aged Care

The daily routines of aged care are based on manual handling. 

Manual handling is essential to the comfort and dignity of elderly. It is also used for basic tasks such as moving, dressing, and bathing.

Manual handling allows for personal contact between the healthcare worker and residents in aged care facilities. 

This interaction not only provides physical support, but also emotional support, creating an atmosphere of trust and compassion. 

Touch from a caregiver can comfort the elderly, reduce distress and convey a sense that they are safe.

Manual handling is also required for a variety of medical procedures, from the simple, like administering medications, to more complicated, like dealing with elderly people who have mobility issues due to age-related conditions such as osteoporosis or arthritis.

Manual handling is not just for the elderly. The healthcare workers who provide the care are also affected. 

This is a physically demanding job, requiring a lot of strength, stamina, and training. 

It also involves understanding individual needs and adapting a safe approach to handle them comfortably and safely.

Top 5 Manual Handling Techniques for Carers

  1. Proper body mechanics - Proper body mechanics involves standing on your feet, bending the knees rather than the back and using the legs to lift heavy objects.
  2. Assessing the weight - Always weigh the weight, size and stability of someone before lifting them or moving them. It’s called assessing the weight.
  3. Equipment usage - Use the appropriate assistance, such as hoists or slide sheets, to help lift, transfer, and move.
  4. Coordinating & communicating - Carers should work as a team to promote fluid, coordinated movements using verbal cues and clear communication.
  5. No overexertion -Taking frequent rest breaks and pacing yourself will help reduce fatigue and your risk of injury.

Principles of Manual Handling in Aged Care

  1. Risk Assessment - Identifying potential hazards and risks associated with manual handling.
  2. Education and training programs - Provide caregivers with the proper education on safe manual handling methods.
  3. Assistive equipment - Promote the use of appropriate assistive devices to reduce strains and prevent injuries.
  4. Teamwork - Promoting effective communications and coordination between caregivers when performing manual handling tasks.
  5. Review and Improve - Constantly assess and enhance manual handling practices in response to feedback, incidents, and industry best practices.

Safe Work Australia Control Measures

  • Change the layout or design of work areas to reduce manual handling.
  • Make sure that the height of your workspace is appropriate to avoid awkward postures.
  • Redesign tasks to minimise manual handling by using mechanical devices, for example.
  • Rotate manual handling tasks among workers to reduce strain caused by repetitive movements.
  • Provide training on the correct manual handling procedure.

The Importance of Training Programs

With the increasing focus on manual handling procedures in aged care facilities, it’s critical to identify the components of effective training programs. 

These components should include proper body mechanics, safe lifting techniques, use of assistive devices, risk assessment skills, and strategies for managing challenging situations.

OHS’s online Manual Handling training for Aged Care workers is suitable for individuals as well as organisations in the aged care sector and disabilities sectors.

You can complete our online course anywhere and on any device. 

Your progress will be saved.

It’s especially important for mobile workers.

Our training program focuses on teaching caregivers how to lift safely and minimise injury risk. 

They are taught to identify potential hazards in the environment and determine the correct assistive devices to be used when necessary. 

Understanding the principles of occupational safety and health, caregivers improve workplace safety and reduce manual handling injuries.
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