What Kinds of Stand Aids are Available?
There are many different devices with many different designs but the majority of them generally fall into one of three broad categories. Standing aids require a certain amount of upper body strength to use, and they are designed to help the user to rise from a bed, chair, wheelchair, toilet or shower chair without a significant amount of assistance. Examples include bed canes and rails, which provide a secure point of support, free-standing lifting poles with hanging handles, and floor-to-ceiling adjustable poles that can be fitted almost anywhere in the house.
The second category is that of carer-assisted stand aids, which often use a combination of leverage and hydraulics to facilitate the process of helping an individual to stand. Useful for people with limited upper body strength, they generally comprise a manoeuvrable, mobile frame that is fitted with pads, armrests and attachments for a sling. They provide a great deal of security for the user and make life considerably easier and less strenuous for the carer. Usually models are fitted with electric motors which minimise the physical effort required.
The final category is that of turntables - devices that help a carer to turn someone around on the spot. If the person can stand, a turntable may be particularly when transferring from a chair to a bed, wheelchair or toilet, but there are also turntables that are designed to be used in a sitting position. These are very useful when getting into or out of a car but they can also assist with wheelchair transfers and the like. Products range from very simple but very effective lightweight fabric discs to precision engineered patient turners, which use leverage and castor wheels to enable safe, secure transfers with minimal effort.
In addition, there are various small and inexpensive aids and accessories such as transfer steps, grab rails and support handles that attach to car doors. There are also glide sheets that help carers to move an individual into a bed or chair, and handling belts that make it easier to hold the individual safely during transfers.
The following are some of the questions you might like to ask when choosing a standing or transfer aid.
- Capability - how independent and physically strong is the user? Aids such as patient turners and carer-assisted devices may be unnecessary if the individual is still relatively independent, and of course, they can only be used when the carer is present. On the other hand, if the user is highly dependent upon his or her carer, then ordinary transfer aids might not suffice and it might be more prudent to consider a more sophisticated patient hoist and sling.
- Strength - is it strong enough to take the intended user's weight?
- Safety - make sure that products such as grab rails and standing poles are securely fixed to prevent the risk of slipping.
- Adjustability - for safety and comfort, ensure that any standing or turning aid is the right size.
- Portability - can the system be easily packed away and is it light enough to take on holiday?