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Guide to Patient Slings

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Guide to Patient Slings
The following is a brief and basic guide to the different types of sling that are available to help people with limited mobility, strength or co-ordination to relocate from one area to another. However, please note that every individual's needs are different and that carers risk injury if they do not observe correct moving and handling practices. Customers should base their purchasing decisions on the user's particular needs and preferences and, where appropriate, upon advice from medical and care professionals.

What is a Patient Sling?

In this context, a patient sling is a supporting belt or harness that is used in conjunction with a lifting device such as a hoist or standing aid. Slings are most often used to lift and transport people with limited mobility in order to help them with tasks such as dressing, bathing or using the toilet. There are many different types of sling and their designs will depend on the needs of the individual and the activity in which they will be engaged.

Full Back Slings

A full back sling is a larger harness that encloses the whole of the user's back, keeping them well supported along their full length, from the head to thighs.

Access Slings

An access sling is generally smaller than a full sling and only covers certain parts of the user, thereby giving the carer better access for activities such as bathing, and enabling the user to visit the toilet.

Disposable Slings

A disposable sling is designed to be assigned to a single user and would primarily be used in Hospitals to prevent cross infection, although they can be used in care homes or hospices for short-term patients.

Slings for Stand Aids

In some cases, the intention is not to lift the user off the ground but merely to help them to sit down safely or to rise to position from which they can then walk. Slings for stand aids therefore perform a different function and tend to be worn around the base of the back.

Slings - Important Factors

The buying criteria for a sling will differ according to its intended purpose. However, the following are some general considerations that may help customers to make a more informed choice.

  • Safety - look for sturdy, quick-release lap belts and fastenings.
  • Design - a deeper, wrap-around sling will afford greater security and lateral stability; a more open design makes tasks such as washing and toileting much easier.
  • Adjustability - check that the sling's height and angle can be adjusted by means of the hanging straps.
  • Padding - some slings have padded sections for greater comfort.
  • Weight - some slings are made deliberately light for ease of packing or storage.
  • Material - slings made from quick-draining mesh are better suited for use whilst bathing.
  • Hygiene - an easy clean fabric is important, especially if the sling is to be used in the WC or bathroom.
  • Comfort - look for vapour permeable fabrics that prevent the build-up of excessive heat or moisture.
  • Strength - check the maximum user weight to ensure that it is suitable for the intended user.
Click to view Oxford slings with more useful sling information

Some of our most popular Slings

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