Wheelchair safety for caregivers tip #1 – Maintenance
Make sure the wheelchair is maintained correctly. A wheelchair that has not been adequately maintained may malfunction and endanger the safety of the person in the chair and their caregiver. For example, broken wheel spokes or an unstable wheel must be repaired before use. If you don’t know how to maintain your wheelchair or do not have the tools to do it, take it to a trained professional for service. It’s worth paying a skilled technician to ensure your loved one’s safety rather than risk an accident due to another’s negligence or incompetence.
Helpful Link – Wheelchair Maintenance Checklist
Wheelchair safety for caregivers tip #2 – Brake Usage
Apply the Wheelchair Brakes when parking. If you are not pushing the wheelchair while in transit, applying the chair brakes will help prevent accidents due to moving or rolling. If you are pushing the wheelchair while driving, the brakes may make it challenging to push effectively, so they should not be used in this case. A caregiver can accidentally leave the wheelchair in “run” mode, so check before moving away from the chair. Reclining the wheelchair may destabilize it, so be sure that you lock it in an upright position before you move away.
Wheelchair safety for caregivers tip #3 – Accessibility
Create an accessible home. Friends and family members often want to help out, but they may need to learn how to help safely. If you have a loved one in a wheelchair, it’s essential to help them navigate your home by ensuring that there aren’t any nonfunctional objects blocking their path and that the room layout is understandable. If you have steps, make sure stairlifts or other accessibility equipment are available. Make particular room doors wide enough for the wheelchair to fit through and that hallways are wide enough to accommodate the wheelchair. Also, ensure any fragile or breakable objects have been moved out of the way.
Wheelchair safety for caregivers tip #4 – Good Posture
Ensure the patient or resident sits down upright. The person in the wheelchair should be sitting upright and in a position that allows them to see over their knees for maximum safety. The caregiver should also make sure that their charge is sitting tightly so that they aren’t going to fall out of the chair. A seat belt may help secure them into place, but make sure you remove your loved one’s spectacles before fastening the belt while they’re wearing them.
Wheelchair safety for caregivers tip #5 –
Use Proper Transfer Techniques.
Use proper lifting techniques to avoid injury if you need to lift someone in a wheelchair. First, locate the “waist” of the person and prevent the armpits. Ensure you’re not putting all of your weight into one arm or hand, as this could cause injury to yourself and your charge. If you are supporting someone’s entire body weight, ask yourself if they can get up on their own and then lower them gently into position before getting help from others in moving the chair.
A caregiver’s role is not to replace the family member needing care but to ensure that their patient is safe and comfortable during their time of need. It’s good practice for friends or family members to learn basic safety measures and check in on their charge from time to time to assist in preventing accidents or helping the patient if needed. The best caregiver takes the time to learn about their charge’s limitations and abilities and works with them to create a more comfortable and secure environment for their loved ones.
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