Online Moving and Assisting of People Level 2 (VTQ)

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A Comprehensive Guide to Using Hoists and Slings in Patient Care

Hoists and slings are essential pieces of equipment used to safely move individuals in care. This article provides a comprehensive overview of their use, types, and maintenance.

Introduction to Hoists and Slings

A hoist is a device used for lifting or lowering a person, and a sling is a support device attached to the hoist. There's a wide variety of slings, each manufactured for specific purposes and sizes. The choice of sling depends on the hoist in use and the needs of the individual.

Brands and Purpose of Slings

Slings come from different manufacturers and are typically used with hoists from the same brand. For instance, an Invacare hoist pairs with an Invacare sling, while an Oxford hoist works with an Oxford sling.

Measuring and Choosing the Right Sling

Proper measuring is crucial to selecting the correct sling. This process includes assessing the individual's shoulder width, tarsal length, and leg circumference. The care plan will indicate the type of sling required for specific transfers, such as from a chair to a wheelchair.

Understanding Colour Coding and Straps

Each sling brand has unique colour coding for the straps that connect the sling to the hoist. These colours can sometimes cause confusion, particularly when different brands are in use. The colour codes denote the length of the strap, with each colour representing a specific length.

Conducting Hoist and Sling Checks

Prior to usage, both the hoist and the sling must be thoroughly checked to ensure all parts are in good condition. This includes checking the hoist's battery, its up and down movement, and inspecting the sling's straps and stitching for tears or damage.

Variety of Slings and Their Uses

There are various types of slings designed for specific purposes. They range from disposable slings used for short-term stays in hospitals to full-body slings that include support for the head and neck. Some slings are even designed specifically for toileting, leaving the lower body exposed for convenience.

Disposal and Washing Instructions

Disposable slings should be discarded if soiled and must not be washed due to potential material degradation and infection control issues. Non-disposable slings often come with washing instructions.


Hoists and slings are indispensable tools in healthcare, designed to facilitate the safe transfer of individuals. Understanding their correct use and maintenance is crucial to ensure the safety and comfort of the person being moved. Always refer to the care plan, manual handling assessment, and risk assessment for specific instructions.

Note: Always be supervised by someone competent when learning to use these pieces of equipment.