Friday, February 13, 2015

NPR: Zwerdling highlights the physical burden of lift-transfer

On February 4th and again on February 10th, Daniel Zwerdling (renowned investigative reporter for NPR's "All Things Considered" afternoon segment) covered the physical demands caused by lifting and transferring patients. His sources are hospital-based nursing staff, but the stories and observations can apply to both unpaid family caregivers and paid home health workers as well.

We would urge Daniel to include the patient's point of view in his coverage. Though ceiling lifts may address a "pain point" for the caregiver, the care recipient still has to wait, gets hoisted through the air (my mother used to think of this as being treated like cattle), and in general is subjected to a dehumanizing interaction with equipment. They have no control or say in the process.

Contrast that with putting the toileting assistance equipment in the hands of the patients. They control the height of the bedside commode, they are able to manage the transfer board so that they feel fully supported, and they get themselves on and off without having to wait for someone to help. While this may not be the answer for everyone, a substantial proportion of those needing toileting assistance will benefit from a solution that incorporates their needs as well as those of the caregiver.

AND, it removes a source of injury from the caregiving experience, while generally enhancing the quality of caregiving for all involved. We understand that a third segment will air next Thursday, 2/18 in the afternoon "All Things Considered."

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