FAQ

FAQ

For your convenience, the most common questions about lift teams are answered right here.

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Q?

I already have a safe patient handling program in place. Why would I need a lift team?

A.

There are a number of reasons a lift team can enhance an existing SPH program, particularly in a large healthcare facility.

  • Many SPH programs struggle with obtaining compliance from staff with the utilization of equipment. Having lift team members work with the nursing staff to use the technology increases confidence with the equipment and supports and encourages nursing staff to use it.
  • Lift team staff are specialists in using the technology and become very resourceful in helping nursing staff solve the challenges of moving difficult patients.
  • An SPH program that utilizes unit peer leaders (UPLs) often finds that through staff turnover or competing priorities, the UPL does not have the time to provide support or train colleagues on how to use the equipment "in real time." A dedicated lift team makes sure the SPH initiative continues even when there are staffing shortages at the bedside.
  • Lift teams can be utilized in specific areas to ensure patients are mobilized or repositioned at scheduled times in areas such as ICU and bariatric units. This helps to avoid the issues related to missed nursing care and provides an additional quality service to prevent readmissions to ICU, reduced rates of VAP, DVT, and pressure ulcers.

Q?

I was told that lift teams make nursing staff think it is not their responsibility to move patients. Is this true?

A.

Transferring the patient should be a partnership between the licensed nurse and the lift team. Most lift teams require the nursing staff to be present in the patient's room while the lift team is moving the patient. The nurse is responsible for gathering all the supplies and equipment needed ahead of time, getting the patient ready for transfer, and for managing all the tubes and lines for transfer. The trend for many lift teams today is to use each transfer or repositioning task as a coaching opportunity for clinical staff, where they are able to demonstrate the technology being used, engage the nursing staff assisting them with the lift/transfer, and provide an opportunity for nursing staff to ask questions about how the technology relates to the needs of a particular patient. Moving patients is and always will be an integral part of the role of nursing staff.

Q?

How do lift teams work in long term care where several patients are up at the same time? Do they focus only on heavier or more complex cases, or do they just “run” from one room to another getting people up or putting them in bed? What about other situations that cannot be planned (falls, patient asking to go to the washroom, etc)?

A.

Depending on the size of the facility and how many staff members are available at one time, many facilities have a certain number of lift team techs rounding on certain units at designated times for routine things, and other techs are available by pager.  Typically lift team staff get involved with transfers in/out of bed, repositioning in bed, lateral transfers as well as floor transfers.  Some facilities have lift team staff assist with education at bed side and coach staff on the use of equipment as well as assist with maintenance and inventory of the lift equipment.

Q?

What general education/certification is needed or available to qualify as a lift team member?

A.

There is no current certification program for lift team techs.  Most of the training for lift team members is done upon hire, during orientation, and on the job. Training can vary from one facility to the next, which is why the quality of lift team programs can vary. Having standards for training or a certification will greatly benefit lift teams in the future.

Q?

I currently utilize a Lift Coach model with an external vendor. Interested in metrics appropriate for a program, your thoughts about employee vs. vendor models or any advice you might have for a 470-bed acute care hospital.

A.

There are pros and cons of each model.  Here are a few things to consider: for employee-based programs, the lift team staff are typically embedded into the culture and are involved in every aspect of the safe patient handling program including forming relationships with vendors to evaluate equipment, assisting with training at an organizational level, helping with the buy in and support, equipment maintenance and inventory, as well as establishing processes when there are identified gaps and growing the program.  However, having an effective employee-based program also requires a strong management team to handle the turn over, the day-to-day issues, as well as keeping staff accountable and helping to establish processes. Depending on budget, sometimes hospitals can’t afford to staff or manage a new program, so outsourcing may be a good solution. Long term, having an employee-based program that is an integral part of the safe patient handling program can be very effective, but it can be expensive.

For a 470-bed acute care hospital, if there are resources to manage the team in house, then having an employee-based program can be effective. William Charney suggested that for every 200 beds, there be at least 2 staff members, so for a 470-bed hospital, you would need 4-5 staff members per shift.

Q?

What kind of people work on the lift team?

A.

It varies but typically lift team members have some healthcare experience, such as a CNA, transporter, EMT, paramedic, etc.

Q?

Do lift team techs need to have healthcare experience?

A.

No, hiring staff who are mature, dependable, have good customer service skills, and good communication skills is the key to a team's success more so than having years of patient care experience.

Q?

Can females work on a lift team?

A.

Absolutely, provided they meet the physical requirements of the role which are similar to an RN.

Q?

Do lift team members get hurt a lot?

A.

The key to a successful lift team is to assure they have adequate lifting equipment available and minimize manual lifting.

Having a policy to enforce the above is important as is buy in and support from the front line staff.

Q?

Are lift teams expensive? How would I obtain support for such a program?

A.

Many successful lift teams reduce injuries by as much as 60-70% and reduce cost by >80% in the first few years.

Performing a good literature search on lift teams, gathering your facilities injury data, and speaking to facilities with successful lift teams is helpful to build your case.

Q?

What tasks do lift teams perform?

A.

Most lift teams assist with getting dependent patients in/out of bed.

Many perform turning rounds in the critical care units and assist with bed repositioning.

They can also assist with emergent situations, such as transferring patients up off the floor, getting patients on/off the bedside commode, etc.

Some lift teams assist with early mobility and ambulation.

They can assist with equipment maintenance and inventory on their downtime to help increase compliance with equipment.

They can serve as coaches/mentors at the bedside with nursing staff to increase their level of confidence with equipment use.

Q?

How do nurses contact the lift team?

A.

Some utilize pagers, while other perform scheduled rounds.

Some larger facilities create electronic data bases.

Q?

Who manages the lift team staff?

A.

Having a facility champion managing the lift team is ideal, however many lift teams fall under employee health, nursing, transport, etc.

Having a good management system is key to success.

Q?

Who trains the lift team?

A.

Lift teams can receive training from the facility champion, unit peer leaders, physical therapists, and nursing staff.

Others hire outside consultants or companies.

Q?

What kind of equipment do I need for my lift team?

A.

Having a variety of equipment, as in any safe patient handling program, is key: dependent lifts, sit-to-stand devices, standing aides, lateral transfer devices, etc.

The more available and accessible equipment is on each unit, the better the response time will be.