Safety gets a lift at Lakeridge Health

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Lakeridge Health has always valued the importance of a healthy and safe hospital environment for its staff and patients.

“Between 1998 and 2000, half of all Lakeridge Health staff injuries were due to the risks associated with patient lifts or transfers. Nearly four in 10 staff injuries were to the lower back and approximately one third were to the upper extremities,” explained Peter Clancy, Director Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness. “We knew we had to do something to improve our patient lifting and transferring process.”

January 2004, saw the implementation of Lakeridge Health’s “No Patient Lift Project”. The project included the installation of new patient lift and transfer equipment as well as extensive staff training.

Lakeridge Health began planning the program in early 2003 with generous financial support from BMO Bank of Montreal. An overall improved safety record in 2002 and 2003 resulted in a rebate from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board which was also used to fund the project. In 2004, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care added additional special funding which has allowed the program to grow even further.

With the receipt of these funds, Lakeridge Health has been able to install a total of 61 lifts with motors servicing 109 beds, across all four sites, as well as two lifts over physiotherapy parallel bars in Rehab and Complex Continuing Care. To date, a total of 65 full day ‘Back In Action’ training sessions have been completed by 440 staff (RN, RPN, SSA, PT, OT) across all sites.

“Investing in the latest lift equipment and providing specialized training benefits nurses, other staff and our patients,” said Mr. Clancy. “And with government, corporate and community partners we are able to bring these benefits to staff and patients across Lakeridge Health,” he added.

“We have received many positive comments from our patients who say they feel more confident, secure and comfortable during transfers and physiotherapy sessions,” added Donna Murczek, Physiotherapist Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness. “Staff report that at the end of a shift they are less fatigued. Traditional floor lifts are difficult to steer and manoeuvre around furniture in the room. In contrast, our new ceiling lifts are easy to use and are readily available in the patient’s room which not only reduces injury, it saves time locating equipment.”

“From the start of the original pilot project, in January 2004, the results were quite dramatic. As a result of this initiative, areas utilizing ceiling lifts, have not had any staff injuries due to patient handling activities. And that means more front line nursing care for patients,” said Ms. Murczek.