Safe Patient Handling
The staff of Hebrew SeniorLife provides care for elders across the spectrum of function from independent to fully dependent, and many residents and patients need assistance or supervision with movement. In 2006, HSL began a comprehensive, multi-step Safe Patient Handling (SPH) Program with the goal of keeping patients, residents and staff safe during transfers, lifts, positioning and rehabilitation therapy. These tasks are accomplished with the use of mechanical lifting equipment and other devices, rather than manually. SPH principles and practices are spreading across Europe, Australia, Canada and the U.S., and SPH legislation is pending in the Massachusetts legislature.

Safe patient handling is important because residents and patients can suffer falls, fractures, skin tears, loss of dignity, and other problems if not moved with an optimal technique. SPH is equally important to nursing and therapy staff because they can sustain musculoskeletal injuries that lead to time lost from work and family activities using some traditional methods that have now been proven to be ineffective at preventing injuries. A national research study demonstrated that a typical C.N.A. or nurse at the bedside, who cares for eight to 10 patients, can lift 2,000 to 3,000 pounds in an eight- hour shift.

Physical Therapy staff use SPH to treat patients and teach them to progress to more independent functioning. Patients are often able to get out of bed sooner post-operatively, gain confidence, and meet rehabilitation goals quicker using the equipment.

HSL's commitment to Safe Patient Handling extends far beyond the bedside and physical therapy gym. In addition to a policy for the Nursing and Rehabilitation Departments, there is a corporate policy that affects every department across the HSL organization, thereby extending protection to everyone who moves people or equipment.  

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