What Is a Bed Hoist?

Gregory Hanson

A bed hoist is a device used to assist in moving patients safely into and out of bed. These devices come in a variety of styles. The simplest types of bed hoist are designed to be used by the patients themselves and to provide a bit of extra leverage and support to assist in movement and repositioning. Larger and more complicated varieties of bed hoist are available to aid in the care of patients who require more assistance, and range from small, sturdy portable devices to large, track-mounted hoists that are permanently installed on the ceilings of care facilities.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Older patients and disabled patients are often unable to safely get into or out of bed without assistance. Caregivers may provide that assistance manually when only a small amount of aid is required. Many patients require more than simply a steadying hand on the arm, however, and these patients are often best-served by a bed hoist of one sort or another.

Some devices marketed as bed hoists are little more than rope ladders or mounted handles. These devices are inexpensive and may offer an adequate level of assistance for patients who require a minimal level of additional help in repositioning themselves. They may be of particular use to patients who have good upper-body strength but have other disabilities or injuries that prevent them from doing so.

Larger and more capable varieties of bed hoist are used to aid caregivers in moving and transferring patients who are significantly less able to move themselves. One of the simplest and most common of such devices is the Hoyer Lift. These devices are essentially small, portable cranes. They apply the same principles of leverage and bracing used by other cranes and allow patients to be moved from sitting to standing positions.

More powerful varieties of bed hoist typically employ motors and hydraulics to aid in lifting and moving patients. Specialized heavy-duty lifts are available to aid in moving and transferring very heavy patients. These patients often cannot be safely accommodated or moved by smaller lifts.

Some larger hoists are mounted on track systems. Such systems allow patients to be moved safely and efficiently from room to room as needed. Whole facilities may be fitted with tracks to allow this sort of patient transport. Smaller home models of this type of bed hoist are also available.

Bed hoist safety practices vary from model to model. All provide appropriate guidelines for lifting patients, and these guidelines should be carefully followed. Specific positioning and handling vary between models of hoist as well, and instructions should be consulted to make sure that a hoist is being used appropriately.

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