Overhead lifting solutions for your home

6 minute(s) to read

Choosing the right overhead lifting solution for your client requires a thorough process that considers factors like their needs, home environment, architecture, caregivers and their personal goals. In this insight piece, we caught up with Occupational Therapist Deanna Davies from Christchurch, to learn about the journey she and her client undertook when installing an overhead lifting solution in June. 

With improved maneuverability, today’s overhead lifting solutions provide effective and safe transfers for both clients and carers and offer many practical advantages in a home. Advantages include things like easy storage (they can be tucked away in a cupboard when not in use); the ability to operate in small spaces (unlike some floor hoists), and they can be aesthetically pleasing and blend in with a home design (rather than create an eyesore). Certain designs like XY tracking (shown below) can provide total room coverage, giving users the freedom to use their home environment in a way which best suits them.

Perhaps the main advantage of an overhead lifting solution, however, is improved safety and user experience. International clinical studies have proven a reduction in carer injuries,

(Collins, Wolf, Bell, & Evanoff, 2004; Li, Wolf, & Evanoff, 2004; Nelson & Baptiste, 2004; Ulinet al., 1997), while users feel more secure and confident as the motion of the transfer provides a more natural and seamless experience.

Investing in technology for lifting and hygiene routines can also free up carers, requiring only one instead of two. Denmark introduced mandatory 2-1 caregiving practices in 2017 after a large study showed the clear benefits of overhead lifting solutions and accessories. The study led to freeing up 859 carers (FTE) and saving £37-98m in annual salaries (HSCIC, NHS Scotland, carehome.co.uk, office for national statistics & Servicesyrelsen, Denmark). Single-handed care ultimately benefits the client as well, empowering them and offering increased independence and dignity.

There is a wide range of overhead lifting solutions, which can be adapted to meet an individual’s unique requirements and fit with their home environment. As with any kind of construction or home modification project, finding the right solution for your client depends on two critical success factors –  a strong assessment and engaging a specialist team who can manage and execute the whole process for you – from best practice advice, planning, design, project management, installation, training and aftercare.

Occupational Therapist for the Home Action Team, Deanna Davies has had first-hand experience in helping a client to bring her vision for an overhead lifting solution to life. Davies encourages more OTs to consider prescribing these as a solution to minimise the risk of injury to family members, carers and even the clients themselves.

“Overhead lifting solutions are not only desirable but essential; I believe they are paramount for the person transferring the client whether it be a family member or a carer. If a family member or carer is injured whilst transferring a client, they may require time off work, possibly their own carer (which may require training) and may also need to lodge an ACC claim themselves”.

According to Davies, the benefits of the newly installed system for her client were clear. Previously her client’s (high-level tetraplegic) morning routine involved a transfer from her bed onto a shower commode then wheeled into the bathroom where her personal care routines were completed. She was then wheeled back to the bed (on her wet shower commode), transferred from the shower commode onto the bed, dressed and then transferred into her wheelchair. Since the installation, the XY overhead lifting solution has improved her client’s daily routine by enabling her carers to effortlessly guide the sling along from the bedroom to the bathroom. The family of the client and carers reported they found the system very easy to use and the effort required to transfer her was significantly less.

Davies says other key benefits include:

  • Reduced strain on the carer’s body – the carer has fewer manual lifts
  • Faster transfers – the carer can simply guide the client between rooms
  • Improved accessibility – the client can shift from bed to bath, toilet to vanity, bed to chair, etc.
  • Greater independence – for example, her client can be hoisted and positioned to fully utilise the vanity and mirror. This may seem like a small thing, however it’s given her a greater sense of empowerment
  • Increase flexibility – the XY design of the Overhead lifting solution means the room can be reconfigured as and when the client wants. For example, the bed can be shifted away from the window in winter and towards the window in summer without affecting room access.

Getting approval for overhead lifting solutions
Davies’ advises other Occupational Therapists recommending overhead lifting solutions to their clients to “complete a comprehensive assessment identifying the client’s needs, the benefit to both the client and the carers and the environment the system would be used. The assessor will need to be familiar with the process of applying for housing modifications with either ACC or MoH before requesting a formal quote and application is made.” Davies says that if the assessor is unsure of the process or eligibility to contact the MoH Enable Housing Team or the ACC Housing Team who can provide guidance and support when required. She encourages  OT’s to engage with providers like Cubro who can provide information and advice on the installation process and possible options to meet the client’s needs.  She advises clients who are funding the solution themselves, to go direct to the supplier.

What should your assessment consider
There are many things to consider when preparing a recommendation for overhead lifting solutions. Cubro’s overhead lifting solutions project manager Chris Fellows says the most important consideration is planning it right from the start. Don’t premediate a solution – work out what you are trying to achieve, what you will need and engage the experts to come up with the best system.

Other key considerations include:

  • Where is the actual lifting required?
  • Does your client require a system to be located in a single room or do they need to move through rooms? e.g. from the bedroom into the bathroom
  • Which type of ceiling hoist would be best?
  • What is the maximum weight to be lifted?
  • What type of structure is the system going to be installed in?
  • Is it a new building, a renovation project or an existing structure?

By carefully considering your requirement and desired functionality for an overhead lifting system, you can ensure you achieve the best possible architectural integration with the surroundings and your client’s current and future requirements.

“Overall, everyone I speak to that’s had an overhead lifting system installed has been extremely happy with the outcome”, says Davies.

If you are considering overhead lifting and are after a second opinion, get in touch with our equipment specialists at [email protected] or on 0800 656 527

Source: Evidence Based Research: June 2009. The effectiveness of ceiling hoists in transferring people with disabilities.ISBN978-0-7334-2730-5 www.homemods.info