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Ergonomics – practical tips

Older couple sitting with young woman - how to care for your loved one without straining your body

Protecting you, the caregiver

As you may have found, caring for someone can include a lot of lifting and bending – helping her or him in and out of bed, get dressed, get in and out of a wheelchair, and more. In fact, you’re surrounded by potential risks to your body – the way your furniture is arranged is just one example. So it’s important to prevent accidents. Otherwise you might hurt yourself or even your loved one. Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourselves against strains and other injuries. They’re part of a subject called ergonomics.
 
Ergonomics is all about how you move and lift, and how things around you – the bed, chairs and tables, for example – are arranged. By following the ergonomic tips below, you’ll reduce the risk of injury. Not only will you be improving your loved one’s comfort; you’ll also be able to continue to supporting them for many years to come.
Protect your back

You can reduce the risk of injuries, including to your back, by learning the safe lifting technique described below. Further on are more measures you can take to reduce the risk of accidents in your caregiving environment.

Safe lifting

To lift your loved one comfortably and safely, follow these six steps:

  1. Make sure you’re standing as close as possible to the person you’re lifting.
  2. Position of your feet and back so that you’re perfectly stable, with your feet pointed toward your loved one.
  3. Protect your back while lifting by bending your knees in a squat to prepare to lift. Keep your back erect, and use your abdominal muscles to lift.
  4. While lifting, try to stay as close to your loved one as possible. This will help you avoid injuring your back by leaning or bending over. It’s also an effective approach for turning her or him from one side to another, or from their back to their side.
  5. Lift or transfer them in a smooth and flowing motion. 
Did you know that you can buy special lifting equipment to help lift your loved one? Some care support organizations will help you cover the costs – see Local organisations and charities

Other ways to make lifting safer

For the perfect caregiving environment, make sure that:

  • your loved one’s chair and bedside table are of a similar height;
  • you can get to their bed from each side;
  • there are no obstacles in the path you’re going to move your loved one along; 
  • you can easily set the position of their backrest.

For safety and comfort, waterproof the bed and chairs

Sometimes the things your loved one uses, lies on or sits on get wet. It might happen to a couch, armchair, bedding, mattress or carpet. This could lead to floors becoming wet and slippery, which can pose dangers to you and the person you’re caring for.

 
To avoid this, why not waterproof your upholstery with a fabric protector spray? You can also protect the bed and chairs with our disposable covers – find out more
 
For more tips on making your home safer for caregiving, see Home safety

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