Transfers with Ceiling Lifts: Moving from Dangerous to Do Able

Nathan Colburn Education, Information

Professional Strength Personal Lifting Technology

The variety available today in lift systems, slings, controls, and options are changing everyday transfers from a draining obstacle, to a safe, simple, and independent choice. This article will describe and define a few of these options that can be seen at our Adapted Showroom or in a few selected adaptive equipment expos. The main difference between the lifts of the past and today’s technology is the personal fit and advanced options that allow for in-home use, single transfers to multiple locations, and independent use.

Below are a few of the technologies that have gone light years ahead of the standard hydraulic hoyer style lift with a single sling option. This was the standard for the last 20 years. Enter into the No-Hoyer-Zone.

No Hoyer Lift Zone

Moving beyond the Floor Lift

The three limitations that a rolling floor lift have are:

  1. Relies on the surface of the floor to move and are difficult with carpets, thresholds, or doorways.
  2. Will not roll under anything except a bed, especially difficult to use in bathroom and bathing. 3. Cannot be used independently.

Wall Lift: The next step or option beyond a rolling floor lift is a wall lift. This type of lift is made to attach to the wall or to a post that can be installed anywhere. The lift operates to smoothly lift the patient up and allows them to swing in a half circle and transfer anywhere inside that circle. It can be moved anywhere where there is a mounting bracket, and it weighs about 24 lbs.

Ceiling Lifts

Ceiling Lifts provide the easiest transfers because the lift takes no floor space, and the track is designed to travel over all your transfers.

Ceiling lifts come in 3 varieties:

  1. Basic Ceiling Lift – includes remote controls for up and down. Travel along the ceiling track is manual and requires a caregiver or assistance. The track can be placed over all the needed transfer points.
  2. Portable ceiling lift – a small motor that can move from a track over the bed to a track in the bathroom, and elsewhere in the living area. This lift provides up and down options, but travel along the track requires caregiver or assistance.
  3. Independent Ceiling Lift – includes all the options of the basic ceiling lift AND a extra lateral motor that allows the user to push a button to travel anywhere along the track without assistance. Includes options like power traverse rails, turntables, and multitrack and multiroom lifts.

Advanced Positioning

Slings, Spreader Bars, and Body Support Slings: Lifts are only as good as what touches your body. Slings are the most popular way to adjust positioning and providing easy transfers. However, there is much more variety in slings that most professionals see. Most slings are available in a mesh, solid fabric, or a plastic material(PVC) and can include padding or not. The mesh is typically used in the bedroom and can be washed to keep it clean. The PVC material is best in the bathroom or when repeated use requires a material that will always be dry. The most common styles of slings are: (there are many more available)

  1. Comfort Sling (total body lift) The comfort sling encloses more of the body than the standard sling. This gives better support and a safer feeling to the user. It comes standard with padded legs for extra softness and support.  
  2. The standard sling: for universal use, The standard sling is our most universal sling. It fully supports the body and has a cut-out for toileting. And, it can be easily attached or removed from the patient when they are safely positioned into their wheelchair. The padded legs feel soft and offer ideal support at the same time. This padding also prevents the leg flaps from binding or bunching up. Positioning handles are sewn into the back of all our slings. The standard sling is available with or without a crescent-shaped head support. When more targeted head support is required, the six strap models are ideal. A version without padding is ideal when the sling needs to remain underneath the user.
  3. The hygiene sling: for transfers to the toilet Sometimes referred to as a toileting sling, this model is specially designed to make toileting possible while in the security of the sling. It is so easy to put on that sometimes it can even be used independently. The large cut-out area behind the thighs and up the lower back allows access to the clothing so that the belt or waistband can be loosened and the user’s pants can be removed while he or she is in the sling. A wide velcro belt is closed around the user’s abdomen for extra safety and support. An optional head support is also available.
  4. The bathing sling: for transfers to the bath or pool The shape of the bathing sling is identical to that of the hygiene sling – only the material is different. The bathing sling is made of maintenance-friendly, latex-free, anti-slip, synthetic material that can be easily wiped dry. The bathing sling can be used dry as an alternative to the hygiene sling. An optional head support is also available for the bathing sling.
  1. The amputee sling Several slings work specifically for this purpose. They offer comfort and are intended to hold the body in complete balance. Single amputee Double amputee For persons with a double amputation, an adapted, rectangular sling is used. This sling has no head support. (shown)
  2. The seat sling The seat sling, made of a synthetic latex-free material, is useful for people who can stand but lack stability and balance. It can be used in the home or institution. It can support the user in a 90 degree seated position with a firm seat and back support. It can also recline to other positions and is ideal for leaving underneath the user when lying in the tub. The perforated seat lets the water through. It can be attached to any of our systems. An optional security belt is available for those with poor balance in a seated position.
  3. The walking harness: support for gait training and ambulation The ability to adjust this harness with numerous belts and buckles makes it an ideal tool for properly supporting the shoulders, stomach, chest, and legs during gait training and ambulation. The safety strap further supports the user if fatigue is a problem during training.
Spreader Bars 

Most lifts offer innovative two and four-point spreader bar systems. When combined with the multi-loop features on the advanced slings, the caregiver has an opportunity to perfectly distribute the patient’s body weight for maximum comfort and functionality. On the four-point spreader bar system, the patient can be positioned in a reclining, sitting or inclined position. The position is determined by using a combination of back and front loop attachments. For example, the longest length in the front and the shortest length in the back will create a sitting position. The spreader bar is bow shaped so that the patient’s head is out of the way during the initial lifting. Once the patient is lifted, this curved shape also prevents the patient’s vision from being obstructed so the actions of the caregiver can be easily followed. The sling is quickly and safely put on and removed, saving time and energy for the caregiver. Also, there is no need for the patient to sit in the sling all day.

Advanced Lifting Technologies

Multiroom Lifts, Multitrack lifts, Self Supporting Track Lifts, and Traverse Rail/transfer Anywhere Lifts. Room to Room systems eliminates extra transfers by allowing the user to move from bed to toilet or tub/shower, instead of having to make the intermediate transfer to a shower or wheelchair. This is much faster and easier for patient and caregiver. Multitrack Lifts In order to travel seamlessly between rooms, a multitrack can be used as well as a switch or turntable. A multitrack system allows a user to turn in a hallway or room and move to any part of their living space without assistance. See a turntable below, and when the user moves into the turntable the batteries on the lift power the turntable and allows you to enter any of the 4 track options.

Body Support Self-transfers

With a ceiling track system and a body support, a person with a limited range of motion and sufficient muscle tone can have an opportunity to transfer independently and move from room to room on one continuous track. Universal sizing The self-adjusting curve-around cups are large enough for heavy adults and small enough to fit most children. This makes the body support a good investment for a growing child or where multiple people are using the system. Simple to attach

There may be times when the body support needs to be removed for transport or to attach another SureHands system. The safe and secure hook attachment is easy for the attendant to remove or re-install without help. Safe and hygienic The body support is made of light and very sturdy and made from steel yet it has a weight capacity of 400 lbs. All components are watertight and rust resistant which makes it perfect for use in bathing and swimming. It can be easily disinfected between uses or dried easily when wet, making it far more practical and hygienic than slings. Comfort and ease of use The direct application from the front of the user and the simple placement of the curve-around poly cups and thigh supports make the body support very easy to use. The automatic closure of the “hands” when the user is being lifted is directly proportionate to the user’s weight. The security of being supported around the chest and under the thighs translates to a comfortable feeling for the user. As you can see, there are many possibilities that can provide quality of life for most of your patients. Come in and see and try these things for yourself.