When you are looking after someone who is ill, disabled, or has mobility problems, there may be occasions when you need to lift or move them physically. This may be to get them in or out of bed, to bathe them, or to help them into a wheelchair. This is sometimes referred to as 'manual handling'.
It's important to ensure that you know how to do this safely, both for yourself, and the person you are looking after. If you don't learn how to move a person safely, you could injure yourself, or them.
The most common injuries that carers experience are back injuries, which affect more than a million people in the UK. Back injuries can be painful, and take a long time to recover from. This will make it more difficult for you to move around and care for someone.
Moving someone incorrectly could also hurt them. It could damage fragile skin, cause shoulder and neck injuries, increase existing breathing difficulties, or cause bruising and cuts.
Ways to look after someone safely
Ensure the person remains as independent as possible
One way of minimising moving and handling injury is to ensure that the person you care for is doing as much as possible for themselves. However, you must both be careful that they are not putting themselves at risk.
Our Regaining your Independence section will tell you more about how people with health problems or disabilities can often be assisted by trained professionals to re-learn old skills, and to maximise their independence.
Use specialist equipment
There is specialist equipment which can help you with moving and handling such as hoists, stand aids, transfer boards, or slide sheets.
Our Equipment to Help at Home section will tell you more about how to find the right specialist equipment, either privately, or with assistance of a trained professional.
Take a training course
You may also be interested in taking a training course, which will teach you safe handling methods.
The Disabled Living Foundation is a charity who work with people with disabilities and their carers. It offers courses for carers including an introductory course about moving and handling for carers. Tel: 020 7432 8010, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Independent Living Advocacy offer training courses for employers and personal assistants, including a course titled 'Moving and Handling of People - Theory'. Visit their website for more information.
Essex Carers Support Organisation aim to support informal carers of any age, regardless of the nature of the disability. They are dedicated to ensuring that carers within Essex are given the highest level of advice and support, and work for unpaid, informal family carers in Colchester, Tendring, Basildon and Castle Point. They are there to provide advice, information, guidance, and advocacy.
Essex Carers Network provide support for carers who are looking after a family member with learning difficulties. The Network aims to keep carers informed as to what is happening locally, regionally, and nationally.
Supporting Carers in Essex provide information, advice, and guidance, as well as more general support services to unpaid carers in the Essex area. Tel: 03007 708090, or email: email@example.com
Other information and advice
NHS Choices has information about Moving and Handling which will help you to learn how to safely lift or move a person.
Carers UK is a charity set up to help the millions of people who look after an older, disabled, or seriously ill family member or friend. They provide specific advice on Caring for your Back.
BackCare UK provide some good information about safer moving and handling techniques, including a free on-line carer's guide.
Everyone who receives health and social care services should be treated with dignity and respect. If you want to understand a bit more about what that should look like and what to do if it isn't happening, click through to our page Dignity in Care.