Caregiving often includes quite physically demanding tasks such as lifting. When done properly, it’s easy and safe for both client and caregiver. However, lifting someone, when done incorrectly, can be dangerous. It’s important to know the basics of lifting and different techniques to try, as each person you work with is different and will need different levels of support.
Below we’ll outline safe lifting techniques for home caregivers so you can protect everyone involved.
The Importance of Proper Lifting Form for Caregivers
Proper lifting form is essential when a caregiver lifts a client, not just for you but for them. If you lift improperly, twist wrong, or go too quickly, you could pull or sprain something. While lifting injuries to caregivers can be sudden, they are often a result of overuse from repeatedly making the same incorrect motions.
Lifting another person isn’t an easy task, especially when your client weighs more than you. This puts you most at risk for injury when you’re pulling a person from a reclining bed, transferring a person to a wheelchair, or leaning over a person for a long period of time. Common injury areas include the back, neck, and shoulders.
Additionally, proper lifting form keeps everyone safe too. If you aren’t lifting properly, you may not be able to support their weight, and this could lead to a dastardly fall. It’s also possible to twist or pull your client in ways that hurt their body. For both your and your client’s safety, you need to know the proper lifting techniques for caregivers.
Basic Lifting Techniques for Caregivers
Lift With Your Legs
When a caregiver lifts someone, the force with which they lift should be in their legs. Your back should not be generating the force you need to lift your client as this places stress on your muscles, which often results in an injury such as a strain or a herniated disc. To lift with your legs, bring your client close to your body, squat, and push up with your heels.
Do Not Twist Your Torso
Home caregivers need to keep their torso straight and avoid twisting when lifting. Twisting your torso can cause disc-related injuries in your back. Instead of twisting your hips to move your client out of bed and into a wheelchair, you should turn in small steps to change direction.
Keep Wrists Straight
As you lift your client, you might find that your wrists are bending to support their weight and prevent them from falling. However, this can be detrimental to your joints. One of the most common injuries that caregivers get when lifting clients with bent wrists is a dorsal wrist impingement from extending and straightening the joint beyond the normal range of motion. As you lift your client, use the muscles in your biceps instead of applying force in your wrists.
Lift Your Client By the Hips
One of the most important safe lifting basics for home caregivers is to lift your client by their hips. If you pull on their arms, it could cause severe pain and injuries to their shoulder. Instead, turn and lift them by their hips, and the hips can handle more force than the arms.
Keep Your Client As Close As Possible
To lift with your legs, keep your back straight, and avoid twisting at the torso, caregivers need to keep their clients close to their bodies. Keeping them close grants you greater stability when lifting and more strength in your legs. This lifting technique for home caregivers also allows you to balance some of their weight against your own, keeping you both upright.
Go As Slow As You Need To
There’s no rush when lifting your client. Going too fast, especially for seniors who have slower reaction times, can result in discomfort, difficulty, and an increased risk for injury. Safe lifting as a home caregiver begins with giving your ample time to adjust to new positions at each step of the lifting process.
Now that you understand the lifting basics for home caregivers, we’ll outline the lifting techniques for different situations.
Whether a client wants to sit up in bed or move from their bed to a wheelchair, the caregiver should begin by placing one arm under their legs and the other on their back. Gently drag their legs over the edit of the bed while lifting their torso up with your other arm. As you do this, ensure that your feet are shoulder-width apart, your knees are bent, and your posture is straight.
The second lifting technique for caregivers involves standing up. To lift your client, place their feet on the ground, slightly apart. Have them place their hands on your shoulders or on the bed, whatever is comfortable for them. Keep them close to your body as you lift them with your legs and lean back, shifting your weight.
As mentioned above, caregivers shouldn’t twist with their torso to help their client sit down. Instead, pivot by taking small steps. Keep your arms under their arms, bend your knees, and slowly lower them into the chair. As you lower your client down, have them place their hands on the chair to ensure they are positioned over it correctly.
Tips for Caregivers to Safely Lift Their Clients
Even with the proper basics and safe lifting techniques for home caregivers, lifting your client can still be overly difficult. Below we’ll outline three top tips to keep everyone safe.
To ensure that you’re in the proper physical condition to lift your clients, it’s important to prioritize regular exercise. Squats, push-ups, deadlifts, step-ups, and lunges are all good exercises to build your strength and help you practice the proper form for lifting as a caregiver.
Posture is everything for caregivers when lifting clients. If you keep your back in a natural posture when lifting, you are likely to avoid injuries. To help practice good posture, prioritize how you sit and stand every day. This translates into your caregiving occupation and aids in your lifting.
Work With Your Client
One way to make the lifting process easier for caregivers is to have the client work with you. Allow them to help where they can, whether that’s pushing themselves up in bed or supporting some of their weight on their legs. If your client is unmotivated to help, ensure that you have their full attention, ask for their preferences in being lifted, and keep them engaged throughout the process.
How an In-Home Care Agency Helps
In-Home Care Agencies can help you in your career as a home caregiver and improve your caregiving techniques, such as lifting clients. JEVS provides training and resources for their caregivers to ensure they aren’t injured on the job. To learn more about the benefits that we provide our caregivers, contact us today.