Elderly people sat around a table, while nejoying playing a board game.As society ages, the demand for day-to-day living support continues to rise. However, social care faces challenges amidst this growing need, particularly with funding cuts that have led to staff shortages and reduced training opportunities. In navigating these troubled waters, ensuring the safety and well-being of carers and those they support becomes paramount. If you have concerns regarding the safe handling of a loved one, we encourage you to contact your local social services department and request an Occupational Therapy review of the moving and handling risk assessment and plan.

The Importance of Proper Lifting Techniques

A woman with a pained expression, holding her back.In healthcare environments, moving and lifting individuals is a common task that demands precision and care. Any ‘caregiver’ that needs to move or lift a person is at a high risk of lumbar complaints or disorders.1 When performed correctly, it enhances independence and quality of life while minimising the risk of injury.2 A 2013 study testing different patient transfer types showed that the lumbar load was considerably reduced when using optimised techniques or assistance aids.3 However, inadequate training and improper techniques can result in accidents and discomfort for carers and clients.

An elderly lady being lifted from a reclining shower chair by use of a mobile hoist and sling.

Examples of moving and handling in a health and social care environment include helping a client with the following:

  • Sitting, standing or walking
  • Sitting up or getting in or out of bed
  • Using a toilet or a commode
  • With bathing
  • Following a fall

Understanding Controversial Lifting Techniques

While no techniques are classified as illegal in the UK, some methods, often called “Controversial Lifts,” pose significant risks and should not be used in normal care settings. These techniques, such as the Drag Lift or Australian Lift, can strain the carer and the client, potentially leading to injuries and a loss of dignity. As such, they are reserved for use in emergencies, where an individual’s life is at risk.

Drag Lift

A woman helping a man stand up, by placing her arm under his.Also known as the underarm lift, this is when the client is lifted or supported under the armpit. It is typically used to lift someone up the bed, support them from sitting to standing or help them from the floor. It is done by hooking the elbow around the client’s arm, just under the armpit, and dragging them to the desired position.

The drag lift does not promote active movement from the client and may encourage more passive behaviour, potentially leading to increased dependence.

This approach puts extreme strain on the client’s shoulder and the carer’s back. It can also create shear forces, leading to skin damage.

Australian Lift

Also known as the shoulder lift, this is typically used to help the client sit up in bed. The Australian lift takes two carers, one on either side. Each carer places a shoulder under the client’s armpit and hoists them up. The patient is then dragged backwards towards the headboard.

As with the drag lift, this approach can unnecessarily strain the client’s shoulder and the carer’s back. As the client is dragged back towards the headboard, the carers are moving backwards, leading to an increased chance of falls and injuries.

Orthodox Lift

Also known as the cradle, traditional or armchair lift, this is another lift that takes two carers. A carer stands on either side of the client, and they join hands to form a cradle with their hands, arms and wrists.

This approach puts excess strain on the carer’s arms and back and presents a high risk of dropping the client.

Combined Lift

Another lift for two carers, in which one uses their shoulder to lift, and the other places their hand on the client’s sacrum. They place a sling under the person’s thighs with their free hand to prepare them for a mechanical lift.

Although a sling is recommended when lifting, the combined lift is a poor method of placing the sling. This approach can lead to skin damage through shear forces and puts extreme strain on the client’s shoulder and the carer’s back.

Bear Hug Lift

Somenone being helped up from a wheelchair. The wheelchair user is placing their arms around the carers neck. The carer has their arms either side of the users torso.

The Bear Hug Lift assists a person from seated to standing. The carer leans forward, squatting and reaching forward under the person’s armpits, before standing to lift the person.

This approach puts unnecessary pressure on the caregiver and makes it hard for the person to stand under their own strength, as there is limited space around their feet.

Neck Hold

The Neck Hold is another method to assist a person from seated to standing. In this approach, the person puts their arms around the neck of the carer, relying on the carer’s momentum as they rise to pull the person to a standing position.

This approach puts a lot of strain on the carer’s neck, and there is a high risk of injury if either person loses their balance.

A carer helping an elderly lady to walk by linking arms.

Flip Turn on a Bed

To roll a person onto their side in bed, it is necessary to have the person close to the carer, allowing them to be rolled away in one simple movement. However, to get the person close, the carer is reaching out, taking the load at a distance from the body and increasing the risk of strain.

Walking a Person Linking Arms

When transferring someone across short distances, the carer may be tempted to link arms with the client. However, the carer risks taking most of the client’s body weight, and if one of them stumbles, both will likely fall and potentially injure themselves.

The Importance of Training and Equipment

To mitigate risks and promote safe lifting practices, comprehensive training and the use of appropriate equipment are essential3. Investing in regular Moving and Handling training ensures that carers stay updated on the latest techniques, empowering them to provide effective care while prioritising safety.

Recommended Publications and Resources

  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides valuable guidance on moving and handling in health and social care environments.1
  • Organisations like HME Training and Athena Handling Ltd offer a range of courses tailored to the needs of healthcare professionals, ensuring they have the necessary skills to handle lifting tasks safely and efficiently.
  • Various moving and handling equipment, including mobile hoists, ceiling track hoists, and stand and transfer aids, support individuals’ safe lifting and transfer. Proper selection and use of equipment can significantly reduce the risk of injuries3. Prism Medical UK equipment features a QR code, which, when scanned, will take users to an electronic version of the user manual, meaning that instructions on proper use are always available.


As we continue to navigate the complexities of social care, prioritising safe lifting practices is crucial. By investing in training and using appropriate equipment, we can ensure the well-being of carers and those they support, fostering independence and dignity in healthcare environments.


  1. Smith J. (2005) The Guide to the Handling of People. 5th edn. Teddington, UK: National Back Pain Association and Royal College of Nursing.
  2. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – Moving and handling in health and social care. https://www.hse.gov.uk/healthservices/moving-handling.htm
  3. Jäger, M., Jordan, C., Theilmeier, A., Wortmann, N., Kuhn, S., Nienhaus, A., & Luttmann, A. (2013). Lumbar-Load Analysis of Manual Patient-Handling Activities for Biomechanical Overload Prevention Among Healthcare Workers. The Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 57(4), 528-544. https://doi.org/10.1093/annhyg/mes088
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In the realm of adaptive healthcare solutions, Prism Medical UK faced a unique challenge when a young boy struggled to find a suitable seating option due to his medical condition. After experiencing issues with other chairs, including injuries from a competitor’s product, a family contact sought assistance from Prism Medical UK to find a safer and more comfortable solution.

The contact recommended the Freeway Flow Shower Cradle after taking note of the boy’s positive experience with a shower trolley during respite care. The cradle’s tilt-in-space feature and height adjustability were identified as key factors that could address his specific needs.

Upon trying the Freeway Flow Shower Cradle, the boy’s demeanour noticeably changed within minutes. Previously restless and uncomfortable, he relaxed and conversed with his mother. The occupational therapist, upon arriving, was pleased to witness the positive impact of the adapted seating solution.

Freeway Flow shower cradle

The Freeway Flow Shower Cradle provided him with a comfortable and secure option for bathing and opened the door to a more enjoyable and stress-free experience. However, due to the boy’s unique situation, the family contact recognised a potential for friction on the boy’s feet and legs.

A pragmatic solution was proposed to address this concern—a custom extended vinyl calf strap for the lower leg section. Prism Medical UK’s manufacturing team, known for their expertise and commitment to client-specific solutions, swiftly implemented the modification. This thoughtful adjustment mitigated friction and enhanced the client’s comfort.

The adapted Freeway Flow Shower Cradle, now equipped with the extended vinyl calf strap, has become an integral part of the boy’s daily routine, allowing him to shower safely and comfortably. This case study showcases the practical and positive impact of tailored adaptations in healthcare, demonstrating how slight modifications can significantly improve the lives of individuals facing unique challenges.

This story serves as a reminder of the need for effective and personalised solutions, emphasising the importance of adaptive technology in enhancing the quality of life for individuals with diverse healthcare needs.

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A picture of a lady in a sling, with a "Manufactured in the UK" logo, alongside a list with the following text 1. Meet ISO guidelines, 2. CE-marked, 3. Rigorously tested, 4. UK-manufactured, 5. Five day lead time

Slings are a vital part of a healthcare provider’s toolkit and essential for ensuring patient comfort and safety. They facilitate the transfer of individuals with mobility challenges. Whether for short-term or long-term use, slings are vital in enhancing the quality of life for patients. It is therefore critical that these slings adhere to stringent safety standards.

At Prism Medical UK, we pride ourselves on the quality of our slings, which are all CE-marked and meet the ISO 10535 guideline, which details the requirements and test methods for hoists used to transfer persons.

We manufacture our slings from flame-retardant materials and thoroughly test them to guarantee their washability for the recommended number of cycles. This stringent testing minimises the risk of contamination, ensuring the sling maintains its weight-bearing capacity post-wash.

The sling is tested at 1.5 times its safe working load and undergoes multiple lift cycles to assess its performance with repeated use:

  • 500 lift cycles for reusable (washable) slings
  • 100 lift cycles for disposable slings

Also, did you know that our slings are all handmade in the UK? We sew tens of thousands of slings every year! A lot of skill and craftsmanship goes into producing a sling. Six people produce the average Prism Medical UK sling; this includes cutting the fabric to shape, sewing in the padding, adding the webbing and quality checks of the final sling. By manufacturing our slings in the UK, we can be confident in our quality control processes, with every single sling receiving a visual inspection before it is packaged up for dispatch.

Please explore our website if you’d like to learn more about Prism Medical UK slings. Should you have any questions, please contact our Customer Services team at [email protected] or 01924 840100.

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We were delighted to be part of the Occupational Therapy Show at Birmingham’s NEC on November 22nd and 23rd, 2023, where Prism Medical UK joined Prism Healthcare Group companies Harvest Healthcare, Repose Furniture and Smirthwaite to showcase innovation and collaboration.

OT-led workshop - an occupational therapist, with someone on a bed, surrounded by workshop delegates.

The show’s highlight was our continued collaboration with John Callas, Occupational Therapist and Managing Director of Athena Handling Ltd. Together, we hosted a series of Occupational Therapy-led workshops that resonated well with the audience, showcasing the power of collaboration in the healthcare space.

We also had the opportunity to present our new Freeway Flow shower cradle alongside some of our more established products, such as the Freeway Height Adjustable shower chair, TA180 transfer aid and a range of ceiling track hoists.

Prism Medical UK is excited to join OTAC Glasgow on the 25th of January at Glasgow’s Golden Jubilee Hotel.

Please get in touch with us if you’d like to learn more about how Prism Medical UK can help with your bathing, moving and handling equipment needs.

Thank you to everyone who visited us. We are excited to see you again at the OT Show 2024, if not before.

Our OT Show highlights

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Prism Medical UK is excited to announce its participation in the National Back Exchange conference, scheduled at the Hilton Metropole Birmingham from September 17th to 19th. As a leading provider of specialist moving, handling, and bathing equipment, Prism Medical UK will be at stand 17 to share its latest product offerings and valuable insights in the community care environment.

At the conference, attendees can explore Prism Medical UK’s quality care solutions, including the Freeway Flow shower cradle, the versatile CP200 portable hoist, and the popular Freeway TA180 transfer aid. You can chat with our booth team – Julie, Sarah, Michael, and Chris – to address any inquiries regarding bathing, moving, and handling equipment in community care settings.

We’re also pleased to have two regional assessors, Ben and Lesley, at the event, adding to the expertise available for in-depth discussions.

Workshop: Unlocking the Power of Prism

Prism Medical UK is not only an exhibitor; it is committed to offering an immersive experience for attendees. In the Norfolk room, on September 18th at 11.15, Prism Medical UK is hosting a dynamic workshop on maximising the use of equipment to support community care, which will be led by practising Occupational Therapist John Callas. This workshop provides hands-on experience with a broader range of products from the Prism Healthcare group, including beds, riser recliner chairs, shower chairs, and various safe patient transfer solutions.

We will also support Deborah Harrison of A1 Risk Solutions during her September 18th and 19th workshops. Participants will have additional chances to gain hands-on experience with Prism Healthcare group care solutions, further solidifying Prism Medical UK’s commitment to advancing community care practices.

Transactive Advanced 272 ceiling track hoist with sling

Join Prism Medical UK at the Stand and Workshop

We invite all National Back Exchange conference attendees to visit us at stand 17 to see how we can help you transform lives. Our knowledgeable team will be present to provide valuable insights and address individual requirements.

Attendees are encouraged to participate in the workshop hosted by John Callas in the Norfolk room on September 18th. This interactive session promises to enhance knowledge and understanding of Prism Healthcare group products and their application in various care settings.

Lady in the Freeway Flow shower cradle
Lady in the T80 tilt-in-space shower chair

Take advantage of this opportunity to engage with Prism Medical UK and stay at the forefront of community care equipment. We look forward to welcoming you at stand 17 and the Norfolk room workshop at the National Back Exchange conference.

To learn more about our range of community care equipment, please visit the product pages of our website. To find out more about the Prism Healthcare group of companies, please visit our group website.

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Tilly is an Occupational Therapist (OT) and equipment lead in her regional equipment stores. Commissioners have tasked Tilly to provide equipment to community NHS and social care services, which reflect modern practices, and save the commissioners money. Tilly has already investigated slings; now, she aims to look at mobile shower chairs.

Tilly holds several focus groups with stakeholders in her region to gather their thoughts and opinions on the required functionality for a shower chair in stores. A common theme in the groups is an easy-to-use and dynamic multi-role chair. Tilly is very familiar with shower chairs and how they support care in the community. The chair needs to be adaptable, and from experience, she knows that the Prism Medical UK T40 mobile shower commode chair would fit that multipurpose role perfectly.

Tilly is also aware of a need for shower chairs that support people with more significant postural problems, such as sliding out of a chair. Again, Tilly looks at adaptability, functionality, and ease of use for the client and carer group. This leads Tilly to the T80 tilt-in-space shower chair. This chair has the same size options as the T40; however, its tilt-in-space design supports clients in a manner that maintains their position comfortably during showering and toileting.

A modular system, the T40 can be built in stores with three standard seats, aperture sizes, and various backrests and postural supports. Carers find the T40 easy to manoeuvre in small spaces. It can be moved directly over a standard toilet, and adding an interior skirt makes it compatible with modern shower toilets.

T80 in a bedroom

Freeway Flow shower cradleBoth the T40 and T80 are well known to Occupational Therapists and carers as reliable equipment to support bathing, toileting and overall moving and handling, which also factors into Tilly’s decision. Prism Medical UK also offers Tilly and her team training on how to design a basic frame and the main functions of the shower chair. Tilly ensures equipment technicians also attend the training to build the chairs in store.

Commissioners also tasked Tilly with sourcing a shower cradle on contract also. The shower cradle supports individuals who may not be able to flex as much as is required to maintain their posture or have involuntary movements that would rule out the use of the T80, for example.   

Tilly needs a tilting shower cradle with padded side supports that is easily manoeuvrable. It will be required in various sizes and preferably in a mesh material to ensure good drainage. Tilly chooses the Prism Medical UK Freeway Flow shower cradle and proposes keeping some in stores for assessment purposes.

Our friends at Athena Handling Ltd provided this case study. They are a moving and handling company that provides risk assessments and training based on over 20 years of Occupational Therapy practice.

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Prism Medical UK, a leading designer and manufacturer of affordable, clinically effective healthcare products, is delighted to announce a new partnership supporting the continued education of healthcare students.

Partnering with the University of Central Lancashire, Prism Medical UK has provided a range of market-leading healthcare devices to enhance healthcare education at the university. In return, Prism Medical UK will have access to the facility to support us in running training and educational health-based workshops.

Over 3,000 students on a variety of Allied Health Professional programmes, including occupational therapy, physiotherapy and nurse education, will have the opportunity to get hands-on experience with equipment such as our Freeway TA180 transfer aid, T80 shower chair and a variety of slings and moving and handling aids. Prism Medical UK’s sister company, Harvest Healthcare, has supported this collaboration by providing a Woburn Community Profiling bed. We also installed our new Freeway TX Advanced ceiling track hoist with a quick-release trolley and an H-system layout.

Chris Claydon-Butler, Managing Director for Prism Medical UK, commented, “Training and education are fundamental to achieving high-quality care. We are delighted to have the opportunity to support our next generation of healthcare professionals. This partnership is an excellent chance to help students reach their educational goals, provide them with the resources they need to succeed and train our future stars in this industry. We hope this training facility will help ensure everyone can access the best possible medical care.”

Tara Brookes, Principal Lecturer, School of Nursing, University of Central Lancashire, said, “We are delighted to be working in collaboration with Prism Medical UK. The partnership will not only support our current simulated learning strategy but enable students studying on health-related course to learn in an environment reflective of contemporary healthcare. Additionally, we are delighted in return to support Prism Medical UK through the provision of clinical learning spaces to provide training for Occupational Therapists in the Northwest area.”

Moving and Handling training room at the University of Central Lancashire
Moving and Handling training room at the University of Central Lancashire

We are excited to see what this collaboration will bring for the students and look forward to working closely with the University of Central Lancashire.

Please get in touch with us if you’d like to find out how Prism Medical UK can help you or discover more about our new range of ceiling track hoists. To discuss healthcare beds, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at Harvest Healthcare.

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We are confident in the exceptional quality of our UK-manufactured products, which is why we are proud to offer a 5-year warranty on an extensive range of Prism Medical UK equipment. Our new simplified offering means that from 1st April, all products will be covered by a 12-month or 5-year warranty.

Most of our products will have an impressive 5-year warranty, giving you peace of mind. Products covered by the 5-year warranty include:

5 Year Warranty
Freeway SA180C Stand Aid

Our reliable 12-month warranty will still cover our range of textile products. We understand that different products have different needs and want to ensure our customers get the coverage they deserve.

As a UK manufacturer, we are committed to providing quality products. We are thrilled to offer this simplified warranty to our customers and can’t wait for you to experience the benefits first-hand. Please shop confidently, knowing that we are committed to customer satisfaction.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your local representative.

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Prism Medical UK is delighted to announce that it has been certified by TrustMark, conveying its commitment to providing high-quality products and customer experience.

Not only are we dedicated to recommending the best solutions for our clients, but we also understand how important it is to look after people’s homes while we work, and that is why we take great care to ensure that our client’s home is treated with the utmost respect. Our team of experienced professionals is committed to ensuring that our customer’s home is kept clean and safe throughout our work.

TrustMark logo

TrustMark is a government-endorsed quality scheme, and to qualify, we needed to demonstrate the required standards of technical ability, customer service and trading practices.

At Prism Medical UK, we have established teams and regional service centres, allowing us to provide national coverage of field-based staff.

Our team of assessors are product experts who work with the caregiver and client to recommend the optimum solution based on need and environment. They maintain a good knowledge of building regulations and health and safety requirements to ensure their recommendations are suitable.

A regional installation team will be scheduled to install fitted solutions, such as stairlifts or ceiling track hoists. Our installers are trained to an exceptionally high standard, meaning they have the skills, knowledge and qualifications to carry out a high-quality install. Annual training keeps them abreast of product and regulatory changes.

A dedicated workforce supports them (from schedulers and customer service advisors to sewing machinists and quality engineers), ensuring the quality of our products and services. This quality is evident in the various quality standards, directives and accreditations we have been awarded, including:

  • ISO 9001 Quality Management

  • ISO 13485:2016 QMS for Medical Devices

  • BS EN 81-40:2008 Stairlifts and Inclined Platforms

  • BS EN 81-41:2010 Vertical Lifting Platforms

  • BS 5900:2012 Powered Home Lifts

  • BS EN ISO 10535:2016/21 Hoists for the Transfer of Disabled Persons

  • Member of/accredited by LEIA, BHTA, NICEIC, CHAS and Constructionline Gold.

Please get in touch to find out how we can support you with our range of bathing, moving and handling solutions.

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Prism Medical UK is pleased to announce that Julie Hoyles, Director of Business Development, has joined the National Back Exchange board of directors.

As the newly appointed Events Officer, Julie will oversee a calendar of physical and virtual events, including supporting the representation of NBE at external events.

Julie is excited to start and keen to make a positive impact, raising the profile of NBE and increasing members and activity. She brings a wealth of event experience to the role, including hosting training days, guest speaking, organizing CPD days and presenting.

Before joining Prism Medical, Julie worked internationally as Global Commercial Operations Director for Getinge, a leading MedTech company. She has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry, predominantly in the acute and private hospital arena.

Julie started her moving and handling journey two years ago and is now Director of Business Development, overseeing a group of Regional Business Managers and Product Assessors. The national team provide equipment, services and training across the UK. She is passionate about providing the best care possible and helping people live independently.

Julie has been an active member of the National Back Exchange for over a year and attends the Yorkshire branch meetings. Prism Medical UK was pleased to host one of these events in our training room at the University of Huddersfield, a successful collaboration between industry and academia. Based in Liverpool, Julie has also joined the Lancashire and Greater Manchester regional group.

To find out more about the aims of NBE and the benefits of being a member, please visit the National Back Exchange website.

Julie Hoyles, Director of Business Development, Prism Medical UK

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