Why the term “Toileting Sling” should be banned!
“What do you need to know about toileting slings? Marc Egan, Patient Handling Trainer at Enable Supplies, explains.”
If you own a patient ceiling hoist or a mobile hoist in Ireland, you’ll understand the value of a good patient sling that fits correctly and does the job it’s supposed to do. In fact you may have recently installed a patient ceiling hoist so as you could take Mum or Dad from the bed to the toilet in the morning.
However, did you ever stop to think, IS THIS SAFE? A lot of families have been told that in order to provide home help they will need to get a hoist in so they can take care of mum or dads hygiene needs and toileting needs, but have they factored in the level of function of the person in the sling?
Unfortunately we have heard of many sad stories whereby unsafe situations were created by those who meant well, but ultimately didn’t understand the rational behind a “Toileting Sling”. The fact is you can toilet anybody with a divided leg sling, i.e. any sling that can be correctly fitted to the patient while in a seated position, The real question is, should you be hoisting them onto a toilet in the first place?
So why do we have toileting slings anyway?
The original toileting slings were launched as an active sling, meaning that the patient could not be passive in the transfer. The patient requires a certain level of core strength and balance, to be able to use the “Toileting Sling” safely. However due to lack of training, knowledge and a basic understanding behind the criteria for choosing a toileting sling, it became the care tool of choice with healthcare settings across the country. In some less knowledgeable facilities, the toileting sling was even shared across users, despite breaking every cross contamination policy invented by HSE regardless of shape, size or level of function.
The toileting sling became popular because it was named after a specific care task. It was specially designed to minimise the amount of fabric needed to provide support. This meant it was really easy to put on or take off a resident, and the fact that it had a special belt to keep it in place while you were seated on the toilet, meant it took a huge amount of hardship out of the care task for carers and nurses alike. You need the toilet, get the toileting sling.
There are typically two main categories of slings. Those that can be fitted correctly while seated and those that require a person to be rolled in a supine position into/out off the sling. Both categories are for persons of dramatically different levels of core strength, muscle tone and support. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the “toileting sling” isn’t suitable for everyone.
Cause for Concern
I have huge sympathy for HSE staff both nurses and carers because, they are good people trying to deliver good care but some are poorly trained in terms of patient sling assessments and hence are set up for failure. I personally have witnessed hemiplegic patients, patients with MS and other neurological conditions, who should have been no where near a “toileting sling” because they neither had the strength or tone to sit on toilet unaided.
These practices have led to hip dislocations, shoulder dislocations, falls for the patients, and muscular-skeletal injuries to care staff, spinal disk degeneration, sick days, agency costs, insurance claims, payouts etc for the carers.
The situation is exacerbated further when dealing with home helpers who are new to using a patient hoists or who have had the bare minimum in terms of training. They rely exclusively on the family and their advisors to provide a safe system of work, yet the toileting sling they have been provided with is not suitable for use with the patient they are caring for. Hence why it is our opinion that the term “Toileting Sling” should be banned. There is more than one way to help someone go to the toilet.
Enable Supplies your trusted partner in disability equipment
Enable Supplies continue to lead the way in terms of sling training for OT’s and HSE personnel alike. Our in house Patient Handling Instructor has been working with slings across HSE and NHS since 2003. The company provides bespoke training programs for care homes and residential facilities across the country.
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