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A Caregiver’s Guide to Patient Lifts

patient lift

What are Patient Lifts?

Caring for a loved one at home can be personally rewarding but it can also be dangerous. Every year many caregivers develop chronic back pain after transferring patients from beds, toilets or wheelchairs. Hydraulic or powered lifts are used to take over most of the physical effort required to move patients from one place to another, reducing the risk of injury to caregivers. Hydraulic lifts use a manual crank for the hoisting mechanism while powered lifts have electronic actuators that allow caregivers to lift the patient with just the touch of a button. Sit-to-stand lifts are specifically designed for patients who can bear weight on both legs but have difficulty rising to a standing position. Full body lifts use slings to transfer patients who are immobile or unable to sit up without assistance. In this blog, we will look at powered full body lifts including the Take-a-Long Power Folding Patient Lift and how they can be used to protect both patients and caregivers from injury.


The Basics

Although patient lifts come in a wide variety of configurations to meet the needs of the patient and caregiver, all lifts share some common features. Modern lifts are compact with swivel wheels and can easily maneuver around tight spaces in the patient’s home. The rear wheels have foot-operated locks to keep it in place while the patient is being raised or lowered. The base legs can be moved together to navigate through doorways and spread apart to position the patient over the toilet. Powered lifts, like the Take-a-Long, have motors with rechargeable batteries to make transfers smooth and easy for both patients and caregivers. All powered lifts have a control to stop the lift motor in case of an emergency and a manual override to safely lower patients if power is lost. The Take-a-Long lift also has a remote control that allows caregivers to operate the lift with one hand while the other steadies the patient. Caregivers must receive training from medical professionals before using the lift to transfer the patient in order to prevent serious injury.


Key Considerations

Each lift has a maximum weight capacity which absolutely must not be exceeded. Although the Take-a-Long lift has a weight capacity of 400 lbs, most patient lifts can only lift up to 350 lbs. Heavy duty lifts with reinforced construction and more powerful motors are needed to safely transfer bariatric patients. The lifting range is another important consideration for caregivers in case the patient needs to be lifted off the floor or onto a high treatment table. Built-in digital scales are very helpful for patients with heart or kidney disease who require accurate daily weight monitoring. The Take-a-Long easily folds up to a compact 26” x 46” x 16” size that will fit in storage closets or the trunk of most vehicles. The small size also makes it ideal for maneuvering around tight spaces in the patient’s home.



Slings are available in a wide variety of materials, styles and weight capacities to lift patients safely and comfortably. Hammock slings should be used for people who are unable to bear any weight because the patient’s entire body is supported with the arms inside the sling straps. Patients with weak neck muscles require slings with a higher back to provide head support. Divided leg slings have straps that cross under the patient’s thighs that can be easily removed and replaced while the patient is seated. Polyester materials are popular because they dry quickly, are easily cleaned, and minimize friction to protect the patient’s skin. The patient’s therapy team must be consulted in order to select the correct lift and sling.


Final Thoughts

Powered full body lifts like the Take-a-Long greatly reduce the physical effort required by caregivers to move immobile patients from one place to another. They can improve patient mobility and protect caregivers from debilitating back injuries. Compact lifts with adjustable bases and folding frames like the Take-a-Long are ideal for use in the patient’s home. HomeCare Hospital Beds has a wide variety of hydraulic and powered patient lifts along with divided leg and full body slings. Caregivers must consult with the patient’s therapy team to select the correct lift and sling and receive training before operating the patient lift at home.


**The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. If you are having a severe and sudden change in physical or mental health, please call 911, contact a local emergency facility or consult with your doctor. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider, and never disregard the advice given because of information you have received from our website.*