Tips for Safe Bariatric Patient Mobility for the Healthcare Industry

Caring for bariatric patients comes with multiple risks for workers in the healthcare industry. Due to the weight and size of these patients, healthcare workers need to be properly trained in how to care for their patients without causing injury to themselves or the patient.

This training involves best practices when using specialised bariatric equipment as well as how to move patients in a safe and efficient manner. For this reason, it’s important for healthcare facilities to develop a plan on how best to handle the mobility of bariatric patients.

1. Training Staff To Use Bariatric Equipment Correctly

When healthcare workers are required to provide mobility for bariatric patients, it usually involves using specialised equipment. This equipment includes things such as ceiling lifts, lateral transfer aids, portable lifts, wheelchairs and transfer cushions.

When staff are assigned to care for a bariatric patient, it’s important that they’re fully trained on how to use this specialised equipment correctly. Incorrect use of such equipment could cause discomfort or pain for the patient and also possible injury to the carer.

2. Assessing The Patient’s Own Mobility

Another important tip is to assess the patient’s own mobility to get an idea of what he or she can and can’t do themselves. For this reason, it’s important to discuss the patient’s personal mobility as this can be useful when determining how best to transfer or move them.

Staff who have limited experience working with bariatric patients may assume that the patient has very limited mobility on their own. For some, this may not be the case and the patient may be able to assist with their movement in certain situations.

3. How The Transfer Is Going To Be Made Should Be Explained To The Patient

Before transferring a bariatric patient, the healthcare worker or workers should explain exactly what is going to happen during the transfer. For example, if the staff member is going to use a powered turning aid, it’s important to let the patient know what is going to happen.

This prepares the patient for the transfer and means that he or she doesn’t make any unexpected movements that may cause the fail of the transfer or injury to the staff member.

If a patient is made aware of the various stages of the transfer, he or she may also be able to assist depending on his or her individual mobility.

4. Making Sure That The Correct Equipment Is Used When Needed

When working with bariatric patients, it’s important that healthcare workers use the correct equipment when moving the patient and don’t just rely on their own ability.

For example, take note that a person’s leg represents around 16% of their entire body weight. Therefore, if a patient weighs around 160 kg, just one of their legs would weigh around 28 kg. If a carer has to lift the leg while changing a dressing, this could create an enormous amount of stress on the carer’s back and other parts of the body.

In this situation, it’s far better for the carer to use a sling to raise the patient’s leg while changing the dressing. This is also going to be far more comfortable for the patient as well.

In Summary

Caring for and transferring bariatric patients comes with its own set of problems. The size and weight of the patient means that healthcare workers often need specialised equipment to assist them. Therefore, they need proper training in how to use this equipment correctly.

In addition, it’s also important to understand the patient that they’re caring for, so it can be ascertained how much or how little mobility the patient actually has. Some bariatric patients may be able to assist in certain movements while others cannot.

Lastly, it’s important to explain to the patient what is going to happen during the transfer so that they don’t make any unexpected movements that might hinder the task or cause injuries.