Steps to take to reduce back injury in home health

These following tips were adapted from "Suggestions for preventing musculoskeletal disorders in home health care workers," published in Home Healthcare Nurse.1

• Assess the tasks provided for the patient and ways the patient may be able to accomplish some tasks without assistance. Independence builds self-esteem, and the more tasks a patient can perform without assistance, the less exertion must be applied by the home health worker.

• Consider rearranging furniture, if the patient is agreeable, to maximize open space around the patient's bed, chair, and primary transport paths.

• Remove obstacles that could impede the ability to safely handle the patient.

• Look for fall hazards in the patient's walking paths, such as from the bedroom to the bathroom, eating area or sitting area. For example, remove or secure rugs and remove cords.

• When possible, use assistive devices, such as transfer sheets or mechanical lifts. Patients also may use some devices that allow them more independence, such as seat lifts, a trapeze bar, or grab bars. If the devices are prescribed by a physician, they may be partially or fully covered by insurance.

Reference

1. Parsons KS, Galinsky TL, and Waters T. Suggestions for preventing musculoskeletal disorders in home healthcare workers. Home Healthc Nurse 2006; 24:158-164.