Measuring the value of attaining accurate sizing for patient slings

The use and correct sizing of hoists and slings is an integral part of delivering health and social care services

The MHRA published a safety warning entitled “Size Matters”, which highlights the importance of assessing the sling size correctly due to the number of incidents that have occurred when slings hadn’t been the correct size.

So why is it so important to get sling sizing right and yet so easy to get it wrong?

The use of hoists and slings is an integral part of delivering health and social care services. Although this can reduce musculoskeletal risks, there are other risks associated with hoisting people. Each year a significant number of incidents are reported in which people have been injured while being moved using hoisting equipment. An average of 120 incidents per year are reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The degree of injury varies, depending on the vulnerability of the hoisted person, the nature and consequences of the fall and what the falling person makes contact with. Falls during hoisting have resulted in severe injuries, from broken bones through to fatalities.

It is very important to use the correct sized sling and ensure it is properly fitted before attempting to lift. This will ensure the person being lifted feels safe, dignified and comfortable. It will also provide a carer with confidence that they can achieve the transfer required and that the procedure will be executed in an effective and safe manner

There is a risk of using an inappropriately sized sling if you make assumptions without checking the suitability of a specific sling for an individual

The consequences of selecting of the wrong sling size can include discomfort for the individual if the sling is too small leading to potential skin damage and a risk of the person slipping through the sling if it is too large and suffering personal injury which could include bruising, bone fracture, hospitalisation or death.

Slings, like shoes, support your weight. Logic follows (and practice proves) that just like shoes, a good fit is important for comfort.

Manufacturers Sizing

One of the key challenges for care staff when assessing and selecting appropriate slings is that sizing and colour coding can vary tremendously between manufacturers. Most manufacturers use small, medium, large, extra-large, etc to gauge their sizes. However, they all have their own interpretations of what small and large are. For example, two ‘large’ slings manufactured by separate companies may have completely contrasting dimensions – the body of the slings may be a different length. This can be very confusing and mistakes can easily be made.


Measuring accurately to achieve a comfortable and correct sling fit is possible by following these three basic components:

Using a tape measure that is not stretched or fabric you can follow the assessment below.

Patient height

Patient waist (girth)size (when applying the sling on the patient)

Patient thighs size (when applying the sling on the patient)

In most cases only the height needs to be measured. For some patients also the waist and thighs might need to be measured. Other factors including the individual’s physical disabilities, weight distribution and general physique need to be taken into consideration.

Height Measurement

The patient can either be in a seated or laying position whilst taking a height measurement. The more accurate measurements are taking from specific points. If you measure nape of neck to coccyx, knee to hip, etc, etc, you will accumulate inaccuracies and almost always result in a person measuring taller than they really are, potentially leading to a sling that is too big for them. For optimum accuracy when dealing with height, measure a person whilst they are lying flat on a bed.

Waist (Girth)size

Measure right around the hips on women or right around the chest just under the arms on men and children. Look at the manufacturers size table and you will see which size that should give the best fit.

Thighs size

After properly fitting the waist, place the leg pieces around the sides of the hips and legs, then under the thighs and up between the legs. If the sling has been applied correctly, the patient’s thighs should only be in contact with the padded portion of the leg pieces.

Weight Capacity

Clearly stated on the manufacturers label of each sling is the safe working load. Some slings vary so always check the label before use and remember to check the safe working load of the hoist prior to lifting a patient as it may differ to that of the sling.

You can request a copy of our free Complete Sling Measuring Guide by emailing us today at

Loop configuration

Sling designs will alter over time, so a new sling from a manufacturer may differ in size or attachment strap length from one previously purchased. Some slings come with a range of different length loops for attachment to the hoist. These can be used to increase the comfort of the individual or put them in a more reclined or upright position.

However, you should take great care to choose the correct loops for the individual, as per their care plan, to ensure they are not at risk of slipping from the sling, and to use the same loop configuration on both sides to reduce the risk of the person falling from the sling sideways.

Sling safety checks

After the correct size and type of sling has been attained and before it can be used, a check making sure it is fit for purpose will then need to be done.

1) Check the sling and hoist are compatible

2) all labels are legible and show the SWL and unique identifier and size.

3) Make sure there are no signs of fraying, tears or deterioration etc.

4) Check all stitching is present and intact and the Velcro (if applicable) is clean and free of fibres/fluff etc and the buckle (if applicable) has no signs of damage etc.

5) Finally check the loops/clips have no obvious signs of damage, fraying etc; and it has been cleaned.

6) Ensure there are adequate systems in place for maintenance and inspection of hoists and slings in line with the manufacturer’s instructions, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and LOLER. The MHRA device bulletin on managing medical devices, DB2006(05), gives some guidance on this topic.

Hcsuk have a dedicated and knowledgeable team who will be more than happy to answer any questions or queries you have relating to hoist maintenance and service, including LOLER. Testing. We can also assist with the risk assessment and measurements for slings and the proper usage of different slings.

Grab your free sling measuring guide by emailing and subscribe to our weekly new bulletin designed to add value to every care organisation.

Other Hcsuk Articles you might find interesting…

How Hcsuk Servicing is helping to keep care homes safe and compliant with LOLER testing

The HSE has issued new guidance for care providers on LOLER testing during the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) due to challenges faced by industry

Read more…

How are care homes coping without access to care professionals to help with essential care equipment assessments during lockdown?

Hcsuk are pleased to be able to add to our already extensive range of products and services to care homes, by offering you a remote equipment assessment service

Read more…


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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

VAT Relief Information

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
  2. The goods are for the personal or domestic use of the customer
  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.

How to claim

On the my basket page of this website a link to the online declaration form is provided if the basket contains a product that qualifies for VAT relief. You must tick the box to state you wish to claim VAT relief on the eligible product and complete in full the reason by which you are ‘chronically sick or disabled’ and name and address of the claimant. If possible the person making the claim should complete this form, but a family member, carer or medical professional may complete the form on the claimants behalf. To submit the claim and receive the VAT relief, click the ‘Submit VAT Relief Claim’ button before proceeding to the checkout.

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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