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Simple Guidance to Avoid Work-Related Musculoskeletal Issues in Nursing Homes

Work-related musculoskeletal issues are a daily concern for nursing home operators and healthcare staff. Musculoskeletal injuries sustained in the workplace can cause long-term pain leading to lost productivity and significant job dissatisfaction. However, work-related injury can be reduced or prevented with appropriate interventions and training. Implementing simple guidelines for care home workers can make a significant difference in achieving positive outcomes. Such guidance is very simple to implement including:

1. the provision of staff training in the correct selection and use of mechanical aids

2. the reduction of manual handling by correct selection and use of mechanical aids, wherever possible

3. the provision of staff training in moving and handling practices

4. the maintenance of sufficient staff levels to allow lifting and moving work to be safely carried out on each and every shift

5. the provision of staff training on how to lift and move residents safely

6. a regular review of moving and handling practices and identified improvements applied

7. the limitation of manual lifts to be performed by each health worker per shift

8. opportunities for staff to regularly stretch and exercise, wherever possible

9. regular health and safety assessments to identify risks

10. clearly written health and safety policies and appropriate notices on display (ie key lifting points to observe)

The basic principles behind such guidance are sound common sense and implementation does not have to involve excessive on-going costs. Once the initial staff training investment is absorbed, the savings to any business will be reflected over time due to the reduction in lost man hours due to sickness absence due to injury. It will also pay dividends in creating a happy work environment with good staff morale.

Effective Solutions Reduce the Risk of Injury

An effective solution can only be achieved if everyone within the care home fully understands their duty to themselves, their colleagues, and their residents. This means healthcare workers must apply the knowledge gained from a reputable training provider on a daily basis. Healthcare workers must also observe the guidance provided within the work environment by their employer.

Good Lifting, Moving and Handling Techniques Reduce Injuries

Basic lifting, moving, and handling techniques are designed to significantly reduce musculoskeletal injury risks. Working in a care home involves carrying out constant daily lifting and moving tasks. It is, therefore, important that appropriate and safe lifting techniques are used at all times. Where necessary, suitable mechanical aids (ie back supports, patient hoists, transfer boards) must be available for immediate use. The lifting equipment must also be regularly maintained as it plays a key role in reducing the risk of injury to nursing home staff. However, if all staff are not correctly trained in how to lift and move patients using appropriate aids then there is a high risk of injury to staff and patients.

Ergonomics in Workstation Design

It is now common practice in many different work environments for ergonomics to be applied across seating and desk set ups. Nursing stations are no different and care must be taken to ensure that good quality furniture is purchased and correctly installed. Staff also need to understand how to adjust their seating positions to avoid backache or long-term pain as a result of poor posture and twisting or reaching at awkward angles.

Exercise at Home and at Work

Many occupations involve repetitive movements over extended periods, and this can lead to injury over time. Employers who encourage breaks and exercise opportunities within and outside the working day will help to mitigate this. Staff who maintain their physical strength, muscle tone and flexibility are less likely to experience issues.

Knowing When to Seek Medical Attention

In the event of an accident, it is important to be aware of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. If you are aware that you or someone else is in pain or has received injury it is best for them to receive medical attention as soon as possible.

If you have any questions about work related musculoskeletal injury or accidents at work in general, please contact Miriam at

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