High injury rates among workers have prompted the use of mechanical lift equipment to transfer and lift residents in long-term care facilities. The use of this equipment may benefit residents, too, by improving aspects of mobility and helping to avoid injury. This Commonwealth Fund–supported study examined the relationship between residents’ well-being and the availability of lift equipment and safe-lifting policies and procedures.
What the Study Found
Although the impetus for safe-lifting practices in long-term care was originally meant to stem high rates of caregiver injury, researchers found that they were also associated with benefits to residents. In the facilities with the fewest lifts, 16 percent of residents had pressure ulcers and 4 percent were bedfast, or confined to their beds. In facilities with the most lifts, 10 percent of residents had pressure ulcers and 2 percent were bedfast. Although resident falls were more frequent with more lift use, facilities with safe-lifting policies and procedures had fewer falls.
The availability of mechanical lifts is associated with benefits to residents, including fewer pressure ulcers and less confinement to beds or chairs. The slight increase in falls may be a risk inherent in trying to increase the mobility among those with impairments and may be mitigated by following safe-lifting policies and procedures.