I would be grateful if you could advise how to reduce friction or shear forces when applying a sling. One of my clients has a pressure area just below the buttock. Staff are concerned that the friction and shear forces when applying a sling may be a contributing factor to this pressure area. I am aware that sliding sheets can be used to apply a sling. Can you advise how a sling can be applied with a sliding sheet? Many Thanks,
Health Service Executive, HSE, Ireland
Your staff are correct in their observations regarding the dangers of friction and shear forces when applying a sling. As they no doubt understand from experience, friction and shear forces can contribute to skin breakdown, particularly in elderly and/or bedridden patients who already may be suffering from pressure induced ulcerations. During insertion of the sling under the patient, particular care must be taken to avoid friction and shear as much as possible. Thank you for pointing out that sliding sheets are very useful in facilitating safe insertion of slings under patients, particularly those who may be overweight, elderly, or otherwise prone to chafing or skin breakdown.
We have attached a typical instruction sheet that describes and illustrates various steps to be followed during placement and removal of a sling while the patient is in bed. There may also be videos depicting the recommended procedures on some manufacturers’ websites. We suggest you take the lead by becoming thoroughly familiar with the recommended procedures, then instruct staff how to properly insert and remove a sling. At this point it will be best to use a volunteer in place of the actual patient so that staff can practice and refine their technique. Thank you for raising this issue which we are sure will benefit many of our readers.
The Lift Doctor*