Shoulder Pains? Or Simply Everyday Caregiving Mistakes?

5 Simple Tips To Reduce Everyday Caregiving Mistakes

When we do Caregivers Training (CGT) and see a caregiver pull on a person’s arm to help them get up, our first question is simply “Do you have shoulder pain?”. Nine times out of ten, the answer is Yes. Often, the patient doesn’t report the pain to their carers, so the problem remains or gets worse. Shoulder pain can limit activities such as dressing, feeding, toileting, brushing teeth and reaching for items.

Rehabilitation of shoulder injuries can be a challenging and slow process, which is why we place emphasis on prevention through good manual handling practice. Using best practice techniques will ensure the safety of both the person and carer, and minimise the problem occurring in the first place. 

The Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) guidelines for manual handling condemn any lifting or pulling on the arms during caring activities. Additionally unilateral pulling on an arm (pulling on one side) is generally an inefficient way to help a person balance, if support is needed it’s best to support both sides or in the middle.

Five Things To Watch & Do

1 / Know where you should and shouldn’t place your hands when moving a person: position your hands over larger joints such as the hips and shoulder blades.

2 / Give yourself time to practise a new (recommended) technique. Practise on someone who doesn’t need help first so you can get familiar with how you are going to position your body.  

3/ Let the person know when you’re going to help them up, counting in “1, 2, 3, up!” helps prepare the person for the change in position.

4 / Position your body close to the person’s body.

5 / Hug method – if the person starts to lose their balance, you can try hugging them close to you, using your center of gravity re-balance them. If they are falling don’t try and hold them up, position yourself so they can fall down your body and lower them to the floor ensuring the person’s head doesn’t knock onto anything.

If you want more hints and tips on manual handling you can refer to this helpful guide created by AIC for the Silver pages, just click on the link.

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