5 Easy Steps to Using a Portable Lift Safely

Curious about how to use a portable lift? With a little training and some practice, you will soon be safely supporting the people within your care. Although there can be differences between portable lifts, the operation of most lifts is often very similar. This article will provide you with basic guidelines on how to use a portable lift.

What You Will Need

To use a portable lift properly, you will need the lift itself, a sling, and a working power supply (charged battery). The sling is what supports a person as they are transferred from, for example, a lying position (bed) to a seated position (wheelchair). This is the example we will use for each step below.


1. Positioning the Portable Lift

Move the lift as close to the bed as possible, coming at it from the side. The legs of the lift will generally roll under the bed enabling you to position it very close with the swivel bar directly over the bed. Once you have the lift in the desired position, apply the brakes. Most portable lifts come standard with caster locks. To lock them, you will press down gently with your foot until you hear a click. Double check that the brakes are working properly by attempting to move the lift. If it doesn’t move, all four casters are locked. If it does move, look at each caster and reapply pressure.

Some devices, like the Rifton Tram, even come with directional caster locks. These help keep the portable lift moving in a straight line across the floor as you move it.

2. Positioning the Sling

You will want to slide the sling under the patient. Most slings are in the general shape of a horseshoe. The closed end is to be positioned near the patient’s head. The open end is to be placed toward the patient’s feet.

3. Securing the Sling to the Swivel Bar

Slings have 2 to 3 straps on each side, with 2 to 3 loops within each strap. A good way to remember how to attach the straps is the following: to keep the patient in the most upright position, you will hook the straps according to “shoulder=short (shortest loop), legs=long (longest loop)”. The straps on the right side of the sling hook to the right side of the swivel bar (also called a crossbar), and the left-side straps attach to the left side of the swivel bar.

4. Lifting the Patient

Once the straps are securely hooked into the swivel bar, you will now activate the power source. This will likely be as simple as pressing a button on the remote device. As the patient begins to lift up, check in with them and/or their posture to ensure they are comfortable. Raise them up to the height you desire, making sure they are high enough to clear any objects once you begin to move the portable lift.

5. Support during Transfer

As one person begins to roll the lift away from the bed, another person should move in behind the patient and gently support them. This can usually be done by locating the straps on each side of the patient. If there aren’t any free straps, you can place your hands on the patient and gently guide them along.

To lower the patient, it is best to approach the intended destination from the side. In this case, you may need to open the legs of the portable lift in order to intersect the wheelchair. Depending on the lift, this can be done by pressing a button on the remote, or manually pulling a lever arm. Be sure to apply the brakes again. Position the patient directly over the wheelchair, turn them to the proper facing position, and lower them down. Now unhook the straps and move the lift out of the way.

These 5 easy steps can help you use a portable lift safely and properly. And if you have any other questions, you can always contact your local MEDIchair vendor for tips, training, and tech support. Happy lifting!