What are Patient Sling Lifts


In any healthcare environment, the staff's responsibility is to provide the highest standard of care and equipment while preserving the patient's independence and dignity. Health is a sensitive subject, especially when it comes to mobility difficulties. Patients can have a range of mobility issues, and tending to their needs means discovering what level of care matches their specific needs. 

As we explore patient and transfer lifts, you'll see many different lifts to help move immobile people and those suffering from limited mobility from one place to another. Sling lifts are a common sight in hospitals and healthcare centers. Whether for bathing, transport, or using the bathroom as independently as possible, sling lifts are the industry standard for lift assistance in healthcare. 

This article will cover the different types of sling lifts and who benefits most from their use.


Types of Sling Lifts 

Sling lifts are soft fabric tools that wrap around a patient's body (or part of a patient's body) to assist a caregiver in transferring them to another area or activity. Most industry-standard patient lifts that are made for complete immobility require the use of a sling. Although they are pivotal in maintaining the health of both patients and nurses, some come with considerable downsides.

There are four categories of sling lifts:

  • Universal
  • Commode
  • Stand Assist
  • Disposable

Each covers a different type of mobility concern and helps caregivers provide the proper care for their patient's needs. Slings are fit to patients and the lifts they will be attached to, offering customizable support. While different patients require different weight capacities and sling sizes, all slings must be utilized appropriately to avoid accidents. Caregivers often decide to carry multiple slings to fit other devices and patients.


How Do I Decide on a Transfer Sling?

The first step to providing the best transfer care is knowing more about the different types of sling lifts. Ranging from hydraulic to electric, sling lifts come in various sizes, materials, and weight capacities. To determine the best fit for specific circumstances, start with a patient's needs and mobility.


Floor Lifts 

Floor lifts provide more support to patients with unpredictable mobility or challenging medical conditions. They offer the same help with hygiene and transport but provide more physical support for the care providers and more of the act of lifting the patient. 

Divided Leg Slings support a person underneath their thighs and from behind, leaving their legs and arms outside the lift. 

Full Body Slings contain the patient's arms and body, only allowing the legs to be outside of the swing during use. 


Hoyer Lifts 

Hoyer lifts are lifts that can be used independently by the patient. They are substantial lifts that can be on wheels or attached to a surface. This lift is operated by the caregiver or the patient and requires a good amount of mandatory training. 

Power Hoyer lifts use an electric motor to move the sling up and down, while a manual Hoyer Lift uses a hydraulic system that raises the sling when pulled. There are also sit-to-stand Hoyer lifts. 

What truly makes these lifts unique is the versatility they offer for entirely immobile patients. An interesting alternative is a sling that can be mounted to a ceiling with tracks (called a ceiling lift) to move a person from one room to another or all over a house without the need for a wheelchair. 


Who Should use a Sling Lift?

While these sling lifts can benefit caregivers and patients, they have substantial downsides. A patient can feel dehumanized by a machine that is taking away their ability to use the mobility they still have. Other cons of using a sling lift begin with their size and cost. Even the cheapest models can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. They can also be cumbersome, meaning in home care situations or smaller care facilities, they can monopolize a lot of room, especially considering you may need multiple sling lifts.  

There are physical risks for caregivers with using such a large machine. The sling has to be perfectly placed for the patient to be held evenly and without straining their body. If a patient isn't lifted correctly, it can result in the care provider using their weight to fix the issue and facing possibly detrimental pain and physical problems over time. With any machine used for lifting, the patient also has a fall risk. 


Sling lifts are especially for people who:

Are completely or nearly completely immobile

  • Can't hold themselves up in a chair
  • Have a higher weight 
  • Need substantial help with movement due to weakened leg muscles

If a person still has at least limited mobility, it may be best to use a transfer chair instead. Patient transfer devices like the Mobile Patient Lift allow for more dignified and flexible transfers, especially for anyone who can move with more stability. In addition, the motorized features mean less strain on caregivers than a Hoyer lift or other types of sling lifts.

For the fully immobile, however, sling lifts are the best route. They also are great in facilities that care for patients with degenerative medical conditions or unpredictable use of their mobility. 


Sling Lifts are Essential for Fully Immobile Patients

While they come with downsides, sling lifts are essential to nurses and patients facing complete or extreme immobility. For everything else, transfer chairs like the Mobile Patient Lift can provide dignified experiences for those with limited mobility. Learn more if you think a family member, patient, or loved one needs a better transfer option.


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