Patients with some of the most complex care needs will require regular turning. Manual turns are still the preferred option in many settings, but mechanised beds could offer additional support for healthcare teams.

Manual handling guidelines

The NHS manual handling guidelines place a responsibility on hospital management teams to undertake risk assessments whenever there is a need for manual handling. The aim here is to limit the number of scenarios where manual handling is used, thus relieving pressure on care teams. In acute settings mechanised methods of turning are more widely used, but they can also be of benefit in complex care cases.

How can mechanical turning beds improve the nursing environment?

Staff protection

Nursing teams who are routinely required to manually turn complex care patients can, in turn, suffer from postural and repetitive strain injuries. The use of a mechanical turning bed would relieve the pressure on individual nursing staff and thus reduce absence levels among clinical teams.

The strain of manually turning patients who are not only wholly reliant on the healthcare professionals, but who also have significant spinal injuries, can lead to nurses having to take considerable time off. This increases the workload of other clinical staff within the ward setting and amplifies the reliance on agency workers.

Issues with bank staff

Clinical teams who work closely together over a consistent period build up a strong rapport and understanding of one another. This is of critical importance when turning patients with complex care needs.

When one wrong move could lead to further injuries and increase the rehabilitation period. Complex cases will arrive on a ward with no warning and demand the attention of a large team of nurses, limiting the personal care received by other patients. Many hospital settings rely on agency members in these instances, thus reducing the confidence of the team to successfully perform manual turns.

Mechanised turning

In spinal care cases it is vital that spinal alignment is maintained throughout a turn. The use of a mechanised bed in these scenarios should not reduce the clinical support the patient receives, but will limit the strain placed on the nurses. When they’re used in less critical cases, where patients are under no risk during the turn, fewer nurses are required, thus enabling them to be utilised elsewhere on the ward.

With an increased investment in mechanised beds across clinical settings, the nursing environment is likely to be improved, helping both nurses and patients in turn. They relieve pressure on staff and provide less risk to the critical care patient.

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