How To Use Nursing Home Mobile Lifting Equipment

How To Use Nursing Home Mobile Lifting Equipment

The use of mobile hoists, tracking hoists and stand aids has now become an integral part of care within our care facilities and in the community to assist carers in the moving of residents and to reduce healthcare related injuries to carers and staff.

moving and handling check sheet button

Mobile Hoists Or Sling Hoists Are The Most Used Hoists In Care Homes

Tracking or ceiling hoists are more used in care in the home or more specialised environments such as long-term residency and schools. As a permanent fixture, it requires only one person to be able to move a person in a sling from one area to another. This makes them ideal for use when single-handed care is an option.

Stand aids or Stand-assist hoists are for people who can hold their own weight but need help with moving into a wheelchair from a chair or bed.

Using a hoist to move a patient can be hazardous for both carers and patients, so it is imperative that carers are confident in how to use hoists effectively and safely.

Types Of Hoists

mobile hoist foot brake

Mobile Hoists

Mobile hoists have the frame/chassis mounted on castors with brakes. This allows the hoist to be moved short distances such as between a wheelchair and a bed. The hoisting mechanism may be manual or electronically powered and controlled with a remote handset. The legs on the chassis can usually be spread to gain access around large chairs or wheelchairs. The bed must allow the hoist chassis to fit underneath it (a divan bed does not usually allow this).

When considering a mobile hoist, you need to take into account the space required to move and turn the hoist, especially when a person is being carried. If the hoist is to be used in a bedroom or lounge, for example, the relevant area must be cleared of other furniture and clutter. The castors on most mobile hoists are small and liable to catch on uneven surfaces. You are advised to remove any loose rugs, worn carpets etc. If going from one room to another, doorways or corridors need to be wide enough to accommodate the hoist. A study looking at the amount of space required to operate a hoist recommended allowing 3.6m of available space next to a bed to be able to manoeuvre a hoist and service user easily and safely (Hignett 2005).

Attached to the boom is a spreader bar. These vary in design and usually have two, four or six hooks to which the sling can be clipped or hooked onto. It is good if the spreader bar has a padded covering as this protects the resident from harm should the bar get too close and accidentally knock them before or after lifting.

Ceiling Track Hoists

A ceiling track hoist is a permanent installation into a home, or other environment, which allows a service user, held in a sling, to be moved along a single or network of tracks between locations. It is more expensive to install, but it requires less space and less effort from the carer.

Ceiling track hoists provide a powered lift of the service user but may then be powered or manually moved between locations (traversed). The motor is usually at track height. In order to charge it, it has to be moved to a charging station when not in use.

Other motor units are available from certain manufacturers which are portable and usable between particular designs of track.

A structural survey is always required before a ceiling track hoist can be installed.

Stand Aid/Stand-Assist Hoists

A standing hoist supports the user with a sling around the upper back, under the arms and a band around the upper thighs. The user positions their feet onto the footplate and braces their knees against the adjustable height pad. Whilst the user holds onto the frame, the hoist gently lifts them to a standing position providing continuous support. Depending on the model, such a hoist can be used for transfers or to assist with walking. The user must have good upper body strength and control and some weight-bearing ability.

Static Hoists

Static hoists tend to be installed and used for one particular purpose, such as getting in and out of the bath, getting in and out of a swimming pool, or riding for disabled people. The metal frame is securely fixed, usually to the floor, with a seat or sling which pivot from the frame and can be raised or lowered. The hoisting mechanism may be manual or electronically powered, controlled with a remote handset.

bathroom hoist

Bath/Bathroom Hoists

A bath hoist is usually static. The hoist usually lifts a rigid plastic bath chair with simple arm rests/bars which raise and lower each side. On some models the seat is detachable from the hoist and will fit onto a mobile chassis frame once out of the bath, allowing the person to be wheeled from the bathroom.

gantry hoist

Gantry Hoists

A gantry system is a heavy frame standing over the chosen location, such as the bed. A hoist is suspended from it and can be moved in a linear fashion, along the gantry, transferring the service user – from the bed to a chair, for example.

Portable Hoists

A portable hoist can be dismantled for transportation. It may remain as a single folded unit or be packed into several bags. The unit is still quite heavy, which may not be suitable for a less able carer to manage.


It is advisable to have two batteries for a powered mobile hoist, so one can be charging while the other is used. Once fully charged, a battery can be disconnected and stored ready for use. If a battery remains unused for some time it should be recharged periodically to maintain it. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for further details.

A ceiling track hoist usually has a ‘station’ where it needs to be positioned in order to charge when not in use.

The Basics Of Using A Hoist

The procedure of using a mobile hoist, also called a sling hoist or patient lifting hoist, needs the correct manual handling training courses. These are imperative for any carer who needs to lift or move a person from one place to another. Training will also help with the understanding of risk assessments and mobility care plans.

What Is The Risk Assessment?

The risk assessment will assess the resident for using a hoist – in consultation with colleagues and with reference to the resident’s mobility care plan.

To carry out a risk assessment, determine how many staff will be required (usually two), and ascertain which type of hoist is suitable to use. NB: There is no regulation as to how many staff are needed with the hoist as most are designed to be used by one person. Care facilities will have policies in place regarding moving and handling, and from a staff safety and person safety point of view, recommendations normally state the use of two people to complete lifting procedures.

Mobility care plans should document the hoist and sling type, including the sling size. Check the plan before any procedure is undertaken.

Think Safety First

Explain the procedure to the resident involved. Advise them that staff will use the hoist to lift them safely and without hurting them, and that they may be asked, if they are able, to carry out simple instructions such as holding their arms crossed over their chest.

Ensure the environment is safe.

Wash and dry hands; don a plastic apron and gloves.

Reassure the person at all times. Some people may fear being dropped when lifted in a hoist.

Prepare equipment. Always check the hoist before use. Check it has been maintained; there should be a sticker on the hoist indicating the date of the last maintenance check – this should be every six months. This is called a LOLER test and needs to be completed to allow for compliancy. HCSUK has a dedicated service team who can advise on LOLER and service for all hoists to make sure you are compliant with CQC Regulations.

The Importance Of Correct Sling Choice

Select the correct sling for the person, taking into account their body shape and size. A sling will be single person use to avoid cross contamination and to make sure it is fitted to the individual. It’s also important to check that the sling is suitable for the procedure for which it is required, such as lifting, transferring, toileting or bathing.

hoist loop

Check that the slings to be used are compatible with the particular hoist. Do not use slings that are incompatible with the hoist. These will be either a loop system or a clip system hoist – each sling is different.

Inspect slings, and the attachments, for wear and tear. Check any maintenance stickers or labels on the slings – these should also be weight tested under LOLER, every six months.

Check the hoist’s weight limit. This will be indicated on the hoist, usually on the main boom. Ensure the hoist is suitable for the person’s height and weight. Bariatric hoists are available for higher weights but need to be assessed for safe use in the care environment.

Ensure the person’s privacy and dignity is maintained. Check clothing and movement maintains the user’s dignity at all times.

Preparing The Lift

If the movement is from a chair or a bed, ensure the brakes are off, with the boom in its lowest position. The hoist will find its own level when lifting and will move in accordance to the weight change and you will need to adjust slightly so as not to cause the person to be slid across a surface, causing damage to the skin. If being moved to another chair or bed, check the brakes of these items are on – always refer to a check sheet.

Place the sling. If the person is on the floor or on a bed, assist them to roll over. If they are on a bed, raise it to an acceptable height so you can roll and place the sling under them. If the lift is from the floor, staff may be required to kneel or consider an appropriate piece of equipment which can raise from the floor into a sitting position.

Place the sling alongside the person’s back and as far under as possible. It is important the bottom edge of the sling is as far as possible under the hip. Bunch the sling slightly before moving the person onto their back, then ease the other way to pull the sling through. Ensure that the leg slats are under the thighs. Care should be taken if there is a urinary catheter in situ.

slide sheet

Alternative Method

If the person cannot roll, two flat slide sheets can be eased into position under them and the hoist sling slid between the two slide sheets. Staff must receive training on this manoeuvre.

Once the sling is in place, check that the lower edge of the back of the sling is under the hips. If the sling is of the correct size, the crown of the head should be on the sling, if a high-back sling is being used. Follow manufacturers’ instructions for each sling type used.

Attach the leg and chest attachments to the hoist’s spread bar. Some attachments are passed through each other and crossed before they are attached to the spread bar. See manufacturer’s instructions and follow the training guidance.

Hoist the person up a small distance, then check the sling attachments are secure before continuing with the full lift. If using a sling hoist, do not have the hoist brakes on when hoisting, except when hoisting a patient on a sloped surface or from the floor. The hoist will balance and find its own centre of gravity when the brakes are off. Do not hoist patients from an angle as this may cause the hoist to tilt, especially if the patient’s weight is close to the hoist’s limit.

Raise for clearance, not to the hoist’s height capacity unless necessary – the person may find it more fearful if raised to the highest position. Hoists can be very intimidating.

Check with the person at all times while lifting with the hoist and provide encouragement and reassurance. Some people may become distressed and staff should ease their anxieties by talking to them and keeping close while they are in the hoist.

Never leave a person unattended in the sling and hoisted.

Manoeuvre the hoist and person to the desired position, then lower.

Once the patient is in position, unhook or unclip the attachments and move the hoist away from them. Then remove the sling.

Generally, slings are not left underneath a person unless specifically designed to be. Any decision to do this must be based on assessment and documented. Staff should seek advice on choice of sling in such cases and should try to resolve reasons for leaving a sling in situ; for example, by a change of chair type.

Ensure the person is comfortable.

Think about the distance.

For longer travel, either use a wheelchair or dedicated transporter instead of a hoist. There is always the possibility of a hoist tipping or the person in the hoist panicking which will cause the hoist to tip.

Safe Storage

Remove the hoist to its storage place.

Ensure the hoist is clean and on charge (some hoists have battery chargers and one of these should always be on charge).

Follow local laundry procedures for hoist slings after use.

Always ensure slings which contain Velcro are laundered and stored with the Velcro straps attached together. This prevents ‘pilling’ damage of sling material where Velcro is in contact with the material and lengthens the life expectancy of the sling.

Wash and dry hands according to procedures.

Disposable, one-person slings are useful as they can be allocated to a person for a short stay and disposed of. This reduces infection risk.

In order to safely complete any moving or handling tasks in accordance with best practice guidance, it is important to take a number of key considerations into account. Our latest Moving And Handling Check Sheet has been specifically designed to guide you through the complete moving and handling process, from start to completion, asking key questions on the environment, equipment, training and competence to prompt you to operate safely and with confidence at all stages of manoeuvres.

You can download our Moving and Handling Check Sheet here.

moving and handling check sheet buttonReferences:

Safe use of lifting equipment. Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.
Safe use of work equipment. Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
Approved Code of Practice and guidance L22 (Third edition) 2008, Health and Safety at Work etc
Act 1974 (c.37) and updated care standards, Care Standards for Nursing revised 2015.
Application of the Lifting Operations and Equipment Regulations in health and social care HSIS4

Getting to Grips with Hoisting – HSE Information Sheet No3:

LOLER 98: Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) 1998: Open learning guidance HSE Books 1999 ISBN 978 0 7176 2464 5
Simple guide to the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 Leaflet INDG290 HSE Books 1999
Simple guide to the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 Leaflet INDG291 HSE Books 2008
Thorough examination of lifting equipment: A simple guide for employers Leaflet INDG422 HSE Books

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Customer Testimonials

“We’ve built a strong working relationship with Hcsuk over many years, having used them to source, install and service our medical training equipment. We have always found the team very professional, helpful, and well-organised. We’d like to give a particular shout out to Phil, the technician / engineer who has been the consistent friendly face visiting our business to inspect and test our mobility hoists every 6 months. Thank you for all your support and advice.”

P. B. (Care Manager), Blue Bird Care Ltd

You are part of a great company, if we can help you grow by contracting you out to our sites its good for you, but it’s great for us because your service is fantastic, very efficient, everyone within Hcsuk is super helpful in answering queries and every time we’ve had an issue, Hcsuk has always been there to solve the problem almost immediately, which is fantastic.

Leicestershire County Council

Truly exceptional levels of customer service, the best I have experienced for many years. Very helpful staff made follow up calls to ask how the equipment was performing and supplied extra user instructions to supplement the manufacturers manual. I would not hesitate to order from this company again.

Savills Estate Agents

We would just like to pass on our thanks for all of your help with our orders and would be pleased if you would also pass on our thanks to the manufacturers for being so accommodating in meeting our requirements. We have found everyone very helpful.

Lincs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Since I set up the account for Hcsuk over 18 months ago I have found them to be an excellent advocate of our products. They have been willing to learn about the technical and servicing elements to our hoists and the sales staff have really taken on board and proactively promoted our range where possible. I feel that as a company Hcsuk have got the desire and right people in place for growing in this competitive industry. They seem to push themselves to go that little bit further and offer that little bit more to stand out from the rest. May our relationship continue going from strength to strength.

Joerns Healthcare

As a care home manager I have used Hcsuk for my supplies for the last 20 years in two homes. I have always found them to be helpful and reliable. Their products are of the highest standards, they are able to source anything. The delivery service is prompt and regular so I do not have to keep large amounts of stock. They supply extra services such as servicing and repairs which are done efficiently, and training in COSHH. The reps are pleasant and helpful bringing new products to my attention but are never ”pushy”. Aftercare is good, any problems soon sorted. I would recommend them highly and would not think of using anyone else.

Littleover Nursing Home

HPC have supplied Hcsuk (Health Care Services Ltd) for well over a decade now and we would consider them to be a high quality and professional business run in an organised and progressive manor. We do not rank our customers or have a preferred customer status but if we were to introduce such a scheme I can confirm that Hcsuk would easily make such a grade.

HPC Healthline

As a manufacturer we look for key values in a distributor some of these include honesty, reliability, commitment and reputation. Hcsuk carry all of these and many more. With a twenty plus year working relationship we now place Jo and the team at the top of our distributor list. I have no hesitation in recommending Hcsuk to any prospective manufacturer or customer and wish Jo and the team all the best for the future.

Cleenol Group Ltd

It is brilliant that we are able to ring Health Care Services and that you will go the extra mile to get us the stock we need as soon as possible.

Rykneld View Nursing Home

Just to say a huge thankyou to you and your fantastic team, and I mean that from the Heart. I have never before experienced such a person centred company.

Hampton Grange Nursing Home

What I like about working with Health Care Services is the relationship we have built up and the personal service. The homes report that you always deliver on time, the quality is consistently good and the prices competitive. Your team members are always willing to go that extra mile for us and if ever we have an issue there is always someone there to save the day.

Eastgate Care

Thanks to Jo for going over and above to get us our items in time for our special event at Buddleia House – it was very much appreciated. A massive thankyou for your continued assistance as a supplier to ourselves.

Buddleia House

We have always received excellent services from everyone at HCS at our 2 care homes, especially Lee, Jo and Phil. Always professional with a quick response time. Nothing ever seems too much trouble. Recently I had to use them personally for equipment to enable my mothers discharge from hospital. I had a response within the hour for prices and delivery came straight from the manufacturer to speed up delivery. Phil arrived at the same time to put the equipment together for us! I can’t thank them enough for putting our minds at ease and for the continued support from a personal and professional perspective. I’d recommend them to anyone requiring care equipment and its nice to support local businesses. Especially when they do such a good job!!

Orla House

I contacted HCSUK trying to find a hoist that could be operated unaided by the client. I had become very disheartened, no-one was really helpful until I spoke to Donna at HCSUK.

Donna was incredibly understanding, her professionalism raised my spirits again. Everything Donna said she would do she did, including arranging for me to speak to Andrew the salesman who like Donna was incredibly helpful, happy to bring two machines to demonstrate.

I can’t recommend them highly enough. They are good people.

Penelope C

I spoke to Lee Atterbury 2 weeks ago, when I was despairing about the prospect of finding any equipment to help my husband in the bathroom. I had tried all the popular brands, but none were right for his needs.

When I spoke to Lee he understood what I was saying and set about trying to find what we need. He was so patient and understanding and gave me the confidence to explore outside the box.

I spoke to Lee today and was able to tell him that we, hopefully, have found the solution. I am sorry that it was not a product you sell, though you may in the future, but will certainly look first to HCS for other products.

Thank you so much to Lee for first class customer service.

Christine G, Sheffield

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Conditions for VAT relief for disabled people

Some of the products which can be purchased from the Hcsuk website are available for an eligible person to purchase without paying VAT on them. HM Revenue and Customs sets out the conditions when equipment for disabled people might be free of VAT and how to claim exemption from paying VAT on these products.

Products a can only be exempt from VAT when all the following conditions are met:

  1. The customer is eligible to purchase supplies at the zero rate
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  3. The goods and services are eligible to be supplied at the zero rate

A more detailed explanation of each of these conditions is given below, but you should visit the HM Revenue and Customs Website to fully understand the conditions

The product must be being purchased for someone who is chronically ill or disabled.

A person is ‘chronically sick or disabled’ if he/she is a person:

It does not include a frail elderly person who is otherwise able-bodied or any person who is only temporarily disabled or incapacitated, such as with a broken limb.

‘personal or domestic’ use means that the supply must be made available specifically for the use of an eligible individual.

You don’t have to physically buy the goods in person. If your parent, guardian or wife or husband buys the goods and services for you, then you won’t be charged VAT.

What counts as personal or domestic use?

Personal or domestic use means that the goods or services are supplied for your own private use, rather than for business purposes. Also, the goods or services must be just for your own use – not for use by anyone else, or chronically sick or disabled people in general. However, if you and your partner are both chronically sick or disabled and you buy goods or services for both of you to use, then you won’t have to pay VAT.

Products which are offered for sale on this website which qualify for VAT relief to be claimed for an eligible person.

The products which can be bought without paying VAT are:

Only the products on our site carrying the VAT exemption price (the smaller price marked ex VAT) are eligible to be purchased this way and you must tick the box on the basket page indicating that you wish to claim VAT exemption on the items in your basket that are eligible for VAT relief.

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Please note that all orders submitted with a VAT relief claim form completed are checked before the order is processed.

It is necessary to complete a separate claim form each time a qualifying product is purchased from Hcsuk.


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