Getting a lift
I waited a while for a bathroom break after lunch a couple of weeks ago. I got a cramp in my right hip when the aides finally stood me to transfer to a shower chair that I use over the toilet. I bent and straightened my knees a couple of times to relieve the spasm—and some of my frustration. The aides do not like it when I do that because they are afraid I will fall. One of the aides even warned me she would sit me on the floor if it continued. I stopped. I did not do it again. Still, the nurse manager told me I would need to use the Hoyer for all transfers.
Hoyer lifts are helpful for someone who cannot stand. For me, it is a cumbersome way to be moved from place to place. They only have a battery-operated lift that holds 600 pounds at this nursing home. It is large and difficult to maneuver from bed to shower chair to my power chair in a semiprivate room.
When the Hoyer is used, it is difficult to get my hips back far enough in the shower chair. The aides need to pull up on the left back of the Hoyer pad as I am lowered. Doing that takes extra time. But since I cannot stand up to situate myself, the transfer must be done right the first time. If my positioning is off, I end up sitting half slid out on one side, which is quite uncomfortable.
I used a Hoyer at a previous facility. The aides there discovered the smaller, manual Hoyer was better for me. It was easier to stabilize and was also designed for someone who weighed less than 400 pounds. The size of it alone allowed the aides to move it much better over the bed, shower chair and power chair.
Using the Hoyer has been a learning process for all of us. The aides may feel better because I cannot show frustration physically while using the Hoyer. I would just like them try to understand my situation. It is difficult to sit all day, particularly when I can stand with assistance. It is also difficult to exercise on my own. Isometrics is about all I can do.
While I am using the lift, therapy is working with me with hot packs, stretching and exercise to relieve some of the tightness in my right hip. The heat is relaxing. I also hope I can get splints to wear overnight for my ankles and feet to prevent further contracture. Getting my legs back into better alignment might also help my stiff hips.
I hope I can get back to standing with assistance to transfer. Even though I need three aides—one to hold each side of a gait belt and one to hold the chair—it is certainly easier than dealing with the Hoyer pad. I need to be lifted from the shower chair to the bed where my slacks are pulled up and then lifted AGAIN to my power chair.
I want to stand to transfer as long as I can. It allows me to bear weight which, even with assistance, gives me freedom I do not have using the Hoyer.
Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is an incomplete quadriplegic and uses a power wheelchair to get around. Her computer is her “window on the world.” This blog shares her thoughts and view of life as a nursing home resident as well as ideas of how it might be improved in the future.