A gait belt is a handy tool for caregivers who have to lift patients on a regular basis. It is extremely difficult to lift someone without any proper assistance. It is hazardous for both the caregiver as well as the patient. It helps them from unnecessary injuries. They are the most commonly used healthcare equipment and are made from canvas, leather, or nylon. While gait belts are safety devices, they can cause injuries to both the patient and the caregiver if not used properly.
Below given is a suggested information on the proper use of a transfer belt for patients that ensures the safety of the patient as well as the caregiver.
Securing the Belt
This is the most important part of transferring the patient. You have to make sure that the gait belt is secured around the patient’s waist. Wrap the belt around the patient’s waist with its buckle in front. You can use padded gait belt as well if the patient complains about any discomfort.
It is recommended to place the belt over the clothes of the patient instead of directly wrapping it on the skin. In case, if the patient is thin, use a towel in-between the body and belt.
- Thread the free end of the belt through the teeth
- Next, pull the loose end through the remaining two openings so that it snugs around the patient’s waist
- The belt should be tight enough in a way that you can slide two fingers between the patient’s body and the belt.
How to Lift?
When transferring the patient from bed to wheelchair or car, you need to bring the patient in a seated position with his/her feet firmly on the ground. Once you have secured the Gait belt around the patient’s waist:
- Position yourself between the patient’s legs in a way that there is enough room for your feet to pivot the surface
- Clinch onto the gait belt using both your arms and bend your knees
Keeping your back straight, slowly lift the patient. Use your arm and leg muscles instead of putting pressure on your back. Lift the patient to a standing position
- Use the pivoting motion to move the patient to the required direction
- Make sure to have a tight grasp on the belt until the patient is securely positioned on a new surface like a chair or bed
Walking the Patient
When walking a patient, you must stand to his/her side, one step behind. This position will ensure that you have a firm hold onto the gait belt and you are not interrupting the patient’s movement. When walking, you can use your one hand to hold the belt; however, use both of your hands if the patient has decreased balance.
In case, if you feel like the patient will fall; slowly lower him/her to the ground. While doing this, make sure you are standing close to the patient.