Q: How can we best use and clean slings for our facility’s lifts?

A: It seems many facilities are mounting a bucket of peroxide or chlorine wipes on the lift to wipe it and reusable slings off between uses.  

Before you go that route, first be sure your state regulations allow for the mounting. Second, check with the lift and sling manufacturer to get its recommendation.  Vancare, for instance, does NOT recommend using peroxide or chlorine for its slings or lifts. The company recommends wiping the lift with Vital Oxide disinfectant.

For the slings, I recommend purchasing two to three per resident using the lifts. Therefore, one can be in the laundry, one in use and the third designated as a spare for an additional transfer.

I know purchasing two to three per user is an added expense, but look at the gray cost area associated with not having enough lifts or clean lifts. You have staff using their time searching for lifts, calling the laundry department, or delaying  toileting or showering of a resident, contrary  to the care plan. 

It also may keep that staff member from assisting other residents on their schedule. If they are unable to toilet them correctly because there is no clean lift and an impaction occurs, we have now made a mountain out of a mole hill. Immediate Jeopardy citations and fines could result, and suddenly it becomes clear those extra slings were an inexpensive, easy way out!

Be sure that, upon hiring, everyone is taught the lift and sling processes and procedures for your facility. 

Make sure the lifts/slings also are a part of your annual or semiannual skills fairs. Don’t just demonstrate the process. You also need to observe the process, with “hands-on” demonstrations performed by all staff using the equipment. As it’s said: “We all lose it, if we don’t use it.” 

And remember: Nurses need to be part of the training, too, not just the aides.