How to use a hoist: step-by-step instructions for carers and family members

Author: Nicholas Sutedja   Date Posted:16 December 2021 

How to use a hoist: step-by-step instructions for carers and family members main image How to use a hoist: step-by-step instructions for carers and family members image

Whether you’re caring for a family member at home or working in a medical facility like a hospital or aged care centre, it is vitally important to know how to use a hoist correctly.

Patient lifting can be dangerous if not executed right. We know helping a patient into a sling and moving them from point A to B can be complicated -- it can also be physically exhausting for the carer and nerve-wracking for the patient. With this in mind, this article explains how to use a hoist step-by-step, whether you’re using a ceiling hoist, a mobile hoist or a pool hoist.

How to use a hoist with a sling

Patient using a lifting sling

Most patient hoists (including mobile and ceiling hoists) use a patient sling to support and lift the patient. No matter what kind of hoist you are using, we recommend following these steps.

  1. Check the weight of the patient. It’s important that the patient’s weight doesn’t exceed the weight capacity of the hoist. You can find this information in the hoist’s manual.
  2. Clear away any obstacles. For the safety of the patient and the carer, make sure the area is clear of any obstacles that could impact the use of the hoist. Be sure there’s enough room to lift and move the patient.
  3. Check the hoist. Before using the hoist, make sure everything is working properly and in good working order. We recommend doing maintenance on your hoist at least once every six months to ensure the safety of your patient.
  4. Help the patient into the sling. If the patient is on a bed, carefully help the patient to roll over onto their side -- we recommend having two carers available to help slide the sling under the patient’s back and then roll back over. You will then need to repeat the process on the other side to ensure the sling is lined up properly.
  5. Attach the sling to the hoist. Once the patient is ready to be lifted, prepare the hoist so it’s ready for the sling to be attached. Before lifting the patient, double-check that the attachments are properly fitted and secure.
  6. Begin lifting the patient. Gently lift the patient until they are hovering over the surface e.g. the floor or the bed. Ensure the patient has been lifted high enough so their feet don’t drag along the surface. You can then move the patient.
  7. Never leave the patient unattended. You must accompany the patient at all times.

How to use a mobile hoist

Patient and carer using a mobile hoist

The instructions above are applicable to most hoists but there are a few key differences you must understand before using a standing/mobile hoist

  1. Avoid long-distance movements. Mobile hoists are made for small movements. If the patient needs to go further, we recommend using a wheelchair or a ceiling hoist for safety.
  2. Store the hoist properly. After using a mobile hoist, make sure to store it away to avoid it getting in the way. Find somewhere where it’s possible to charge the hoist while not in use.

How to use a ceiling hoist

Patient and carer using a ceiling hoist

The major benefit of a ceiling hoist is that no floor space is required -- the sling hangs from a stable ceiling track. Simply follow the instructions outlined under “how to use a hoist with a sling” and complete safety checks before use including: 

  1. Clear away any obstructions. Before you can use a ceiling hoist, you need to make sure the pathway under the ceiling hoist is clear. You don’t want the patient’s feed to drag along the floor or have movement disrupted.
  2. Check the condition of the sling. Any rips, tears or wear in the sling could be dangerous for the patient. Make sure it is in good working condition. We also recommend checking the instruction manual and ensuring the sling is the right fit and size for the patient. 

How to use a pool hoist

Men using a pool hoist

Water is an excellent way for the elderly and disabled to relax, so it’s important to know how to use a pool hoist for those warm summer days -- or cool days when a bubbling spa is needed. There are three types of pool hoists available: 

  • Hydraulic or manual pool hoists -- operated using a hydraulic pump similar to a car jack
  • Hydro powered hoists -- uses a hose to provide hydraulic pressure
  • Battery-powered hoists --  can lift up to 30 people on a full charge. 

To use a pool hoist, follow the instructions noted under “how to use a hoist with a sling” but take note of these tips: 

  1. Position the chair or hoist on the side of the pool. Ensure it is close enough to the edge of the pool or spa so that the patient can be moved over the surface of the water and lowered in.
  2. Fasten the patient’s seat belt. It’s imperative to remember to secure the patient’s seat belt to prevent any falls or accidents.
  3. Lower the patient into the water until buoyant. Once the patient is comfortably floating, they can undo their seat belt and go for a swim (if mobile enough to do so).
  4.  Lock the hoist in place so the patient can take a seat when ready. Do not lift the hoist out of the water until the patient is seated and their seat belt is fastened properly.
  5. Do not leave the patient or hoist unattended. For safety reasons, it is crucial not to leave the patient or the hoist for any reason or time period.

Other tips for using a hoist

Man using a lifting sling

Now you know how to use a hoist step-by-step whether it’s a standing hoist, a ceiling hoist or a pool hoist -- but of course, there are other steps you will need to take and consider when lifting a patient. For example: 

  • Ensure you have two people to prepare the patient. This will make it easier to manoeuvre the patient onto the sling and lift them safely. It can be done with one person, but it will be much harder!
  • Explain the process to the patient. Tell the patient that you will be using the hoist to safely lift and move them without hurting them. Allow them to ask questions and if they are able, allow them to carry out simple instructions like holding their arms crossed over the chest or holding onto the sling.
  • Reassure the patient. Some patients are scared they will be dropped while using the hoist. Be sure to reassure them and keep talking to them throughout the lifting and moving process.
  • Wash and dry your hands before touching the patient. This will protect them from any germs. Consider wearing an apron and/or rubber gloves.
  • When using a mobile hoist, ensure the breaks are on. This will prevent any unnecessary or unwanted movement. It will also secure the patient’s safety.
  • Ensure the sling is clean. Read the sling’s instructions on how to launder and sanitise them properly after use. If you are using a single-use/disposable sling, be sure to dispose of it when the patient doesn’t need it anymore.
  • Ensure help is nearby if needed. In a medical facility, make sure a nurse or an alarm is close by in case anything goes wrong. If you’re using the sling at home, ensure a medical alarm is nearby to call for help.
  • Observe the patient at all times. Some patients will get anxious in the sling, so be sure to keep talking to them and stay close. 

Learn how to use a hoist step-by-step with Active Mobility Systems

Want to learn how to use a hoist in person? At Active Mobility Systems, we’re committed to showing carers how to use our equipment safely which is why we offer regular training at our showroom in Silverwater, Sydney. 

We hold monthly seminars to showcase new products, share experiences among professionals and show carers how to use our equipment in a safe and efficient manner. Subscribe to our mailing list to be notified when we’re holding our next hoist seminar, or check out our “Events” page to book your seat today.