Perspectives

Back Strains and Injury are Endemic Amongst Carers

caring for the elderlyThe work of personal carers and nurses of aging or disabled people often involves lifting – such as helping the person in and out of the bath – which can lead to back strain. Fortunately, equipment to help improve the movement of immobile people is available to reduce back injuries related to moving people.

More than half of all nurses and healthcare workers sustain injuries in the course of caring for their patients. Back pain is the most common, making up 75% of reported injuries. Minor spinal injuries are painful, debilitating and sometimes long term. Some nurses who injure their back at work are incapacitated to the point of having to retire from work early.

Nurses, however, have the advantage of working in shifts and being able to take time off. Some health practices provide therapeutic massages for their staff, as well as providing training on how to lift patients correctly.

Family members who look after a relative with a disability may not have any training and are on call 24/7.

Unpaid Carer Stress

Approximately 2.7 million Australians are unpaid carers for a loved one. They save the Australian Government around $1 billion every week in care costs, yet their needs are often overlooked. Carers often feel stress and isolation in their demanding role. Some report that they developed new health problems or worsened existing ones since they began caring. Sustaining injuries during the course of a day is a familiar complaint.

Independent Living Aids

Independent living stores provide mobility devices to help people with disabilities and their carers. Patient handling equipment such as lifting hoists, bath lifts and raised seats reduce the strain of lifting and lowering, and give the disabled person a greater degree of independence.

Back pain is often dismissed as a minor complaint, but it can have far-reaching consequences including chronic pain and immobility of the carer. A mobility aid specialist can advise on the right equipment to ease the risk of injuries from patient handling.