Guest article: The significance of reliable safe patient handling equipment in hospital and community care settings
In this article, Acting Manager of the Joint Loan Equipment Service for Falkirk Council Brian Stewart discusses the significance of reliable and durable safe patient handling equipment in hospital and community care settings in the Forth Valley Health Board area.
How long have you been working with safe patient handling products?
I have been working on the safe patient handling programme for over 15 years now. Both the Forth Valley Health Board hospital and community teams use equipment and products to support patient care across the Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership. Currently, the Loan Store Works and Services provides over three hundred hoists and over nine hundred slings to help improve patient outcomes across the area.
As an equipment service, we made the move from various competitor products to using Hillrom exclusively around 10 years ago.
What factors do you take into consideration when choosing a supplier of has safe patient handling equipment?
We felt as a health board that it would be effective to keep the transition of equipment between hospitals and the community the same. This meant that families and carers could be trained to use specific hoists and slings, making discharge from hospitals easier and more straightforward for the patient, their families and the care staff involved.
All slings, in a care or home setting, need to be used multiple times, washed and then reused again; you need to be able to achieve longevity and life with equipment.
From the point of view of movement, mobility and handling, it’s always important to choose a supplier that provides top quality products, which are also easy to use and fit all situations across care settings. We need to work with an organisation that provides a wide range of options to help fit the equipment to the needs of the patient rather than trying to fit the patient to the equipment.
It was also important to select an organisation we know we can rely on for their support and backup to help us sort out any problems.
How important is product build quality and durability to you and your clients?
The quality and durability of equipment is really important for us. We use over 900 slings across the Forth Valley Health Board area and over the last 10 years, we haven’t had any issues in terms of quality. Slings need to be long-lasting and suppliers need to have good supply, together with excellent customer service, training and support.
How do you and your team maintain your safe patient handling equipment?
I have worked with the Joint Loan Equipment Service for over 15 years. Some of the maintenance we can do ourselves, as we have a service team made up of three technicians who are very knowledgeable about our equipment in terms of the parts’ diagrams, building equipment and ability to access any spare/replacement parts.
But we also rely on a dedicated support team via a rep who we have a good working relationship with. It’s important to work with a company which is easy to get hold of and help you to get to the bottom of any problems and/or issues that may arise. Any faults we tend to have with products and equipment generally come from user misuse rather than any equipment or product issues to be honest.
How important is support to the wider Forth Valley Health Board community?
Having a dedicated rep is a huge time saver for us, meaning communication times are much shorter. I know I can go directly to our rep with anything, as we have established a very productive relationship.
Everyone in the Forth Valley Health Board community, from those who work in the hospitals to members of the council, know who our Hillrom rep is and this just saves so much contact time, as they all have established a strong working relationship with them as well. It is a much more time-efficient and a seamless way of working.