In a healthcare environment with acuity on the rise, many communities are enhancing their lifts programs. With this comes the need to rethink the approach to slings. While proper medical procedures and manufacturer guidelines should be followed at all times, our experts have put together a few tips to demystify a few common questions about slings.
How Many Slings Do I Need for My Community?
While there isn’t one right answer to this question and the quantity will depend greatly on the resident population in a building, below is a general starting point. These per-lift recommendations will change based on the acuity level of residents and body type.
Divided Leg Slings: 3 medium, 1 – 2 large and 1 extra large
Full Body Slings: 1 medium and 1 large
Hygiene Slings: 1 medium
Standing Slings: 2 medium and 1 large
Transport Slings: 1 medium and 1 large
Should I Invest in Resident-Specific Slings?
Keep in mind that you may have residents who, based on weight, shape or specific health needs, require other sizes or sling types (hygiene, walking, gait training, repositioning, etc.). While the starting point above may account for many of the residents in your community, a best practice is to assess the needs of each individual resident to determine the lift and sling mix you should purchase. Some benefits of purchasing resident-specific slings include:
You will have to launder each sling less often and your slings will last longer.
In some instances, residents prefer their own sling as opposed to one that is moved from resident to resident.
Safety & Compliance
Staff does not have to take time to look for the appropriate sling. By having enough of them available, you promote compliance.
How Do I Determine What Sling My Resident Needs?
While fit and comfort are important assessment factors when choosing the correct sling, there are other essential considerations to take into account. The determination of the correct sling model and size must be done by a licensed clinician. That designated licensed clinician should:
- Assess the resident and determine that the resident actually requires a lift/assist device
- Determine the correct lift/assist device and sling based on the resident assessment and the manufacturer’s instructions. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations to determine the appropriate sling based on the desired function.
- Document the specific recommended lift/assist device (make, model and weight capacity) and sling (make, model and size – including any specific attachment instructions). Remember, slings can be made of mesh, breathable fabric, nylon, quilted, padded and may have parts that can be plastic or metal. Be specific.
How Do I Ensure Proper Usage?
Having the proper equipment is an excellent start, but making sure your staff and residents know how to use them is absolutely essential. Be sure to follow any and all manufacturer instructions and safety compliance instructions. Additionally, consider these tips:
Communicate with Caregivers
Make sure your multi-disciplinary team knows exactly what equipment and what procedures are being used for each resident. Changes in a resident’s condition may influence the type of care they receive and which sling is appropriate for use.
Perform Regular Inspections
Look for signs of wear, fading, loose or broken stitching, or discoloration. If you find any of these or have a question about the sling, talk to the charge nurse. Slings should NEVER be repaired.
Connect with Residents
Before any lift of transfer, introduce yourself and verify their physical capabilities and mental status. Even let them know step-by-step what you will do and how they can help. Be sure to center the resident in the sling BEFORE starting to lift the resident to make the transfer.
As many communities revamp their lift and transfer programs, now is a great time to begin thinking seriously about the slings you use. From caregiver efficiency and compliance to resident safety and comfort, there are many aspects to consider as you shop for slings. Explore our selection, including slings for the customer favorite Direct Supply® Atlas Sit-To-Stand Lift or contact us for more information on finding the right slings for your unique resident population.