5 considerations for hoist selection.

If your client requires a hoist you will have much to organise in addition to the hoist itself. This often includes choices regarding the cross bar, slings, furniture, floor space and carer training. It is important not to move straight to these choices but to spend some time considering the long-term use of the hoist and select the most appropriate type of hoist for an individual. You should be collaborating with an experienced installation service, ideally one registered with the British Healthcare Trades Association http://www.bhta.net. Below outlines 5 broad choices relating to hoist selection.

1. Do you need your hoist urgently?

When a person is returning home from hospital to continue their rehabilitation or desperate to get home to spend their last few weeks or days with their family time is of the essence when it comes to getting a hoist in place. Using a mobile hoist such as the Oxford range might appear to be the simplest approach however they are not always ideal and are not your only option.

Mobile hoists come in a range of sizes and capacity's and more often than not you can change the spreader bar to accommodate individual needs and bespoke slings. These hoists are the most accessible type for hospital OT's and reactive community services. They definitely have a place in rehabilitation and care provision however they can be difficult to use with heavier people, in cramped spaces or with thick carpet. These type of hoists often require 2 persons to use them and so care costs associated with them can be high.

An alternative is a gantry style hoist system. These are made bespoke to an individual however due to their simplicity they can be quick and cost effective options. They can be used with single handed care or self hoisting if the person does not require 2 staff for other aspects of their care and are not fixed permanently to the home. It may be worth getting involved with you community equipment stores to make these more available if they aren't already.

2. Do you require permanent hoist installation?

Ceiling track hoist systems are increasingly being installed as the 'go to' hoisting option for long-term or permanent use. Systems can be simple single track systems, installed over the bed, or between bed and bathroom with space along the track for transfers into wheelchairs . In order for the track to pass through rooms, the wall above the doorway can be altered to accommodate the track. There are even systems that can offer room to room transfers by bridging the gap of a doorway with a second strap on the hoist unit.

For more flexibility, several tracks can be installed providing access to all rooms and facilities including garages.

3. Have you future proofed the installation?

A 'H' system of track is the most costly system however it is the most flexible and therefore most future proof system available. A H track system allows the user to access any point in the room in between two fixed tracks using a moving central track to travel between or along the fixed tracks. H systems can be linked between room and even linked to a central junction if required. It is perfectly feasible for users to be independent with all transfers using this type of system if they have the upper body ability and cognitive skills to master it.

4. Do you need portability?

If you want to hoist in different rooms or environments then consider having small sections of track installed where it is needed and using a portable hoist. The hoist box can weigh as little as 5kg and is loaded onto the track via a strap so there is no heavy or awkward lifting involved. These systems are ideal for people who spend time in different residencies. The main issue to discuss with your client would be that the box itself moves up and down when hoisting therefor will be in closer proximity to them than other types of hoist systems.

5. Charging and storage

Would you really want to sleep with a hoist system hanging above you? It is important to consider where charging takes place and where the hoist can be stored. Ceiling hoist systems can have a return to charge feature or can be charged via the handset to ensure charging is convenient. These systems can also be incorporated into built in storage units blending in with typical bedroom furnishings. If you install hoist systems during a construction or conversion of a building, the tracks can even be sunk into the ceiling. Mobile hoists can usually be charged by the handset or have a battery which is removed and recharged in between uses. Ideally there would be a specific place to store a mobile hoist however often size an accessibility prevents this occurring.

Hoisting systems are fantastic for supporting independence in the community. Long gone are the days when we are restricted to two care providers working with a mobile hoist to support someone in the community. The choices above can be used in isolation or conjunction with each other to maximise convenience for an individual and efficiency for care providers. Clinical decision making shoudl be made in conjunction with experienced installaters and the individual client.

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