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Anita sees the risks with heavy patients

Anita Rush works as Clinical Nurse Specialist (responsible for Aid Service in the local government) in Berkshire, England, an area with many bariatric patients. More than 10 years ago, when Anita met her first bariatric patient, she realized that knowledge in the field was missing. She decided to acquire it by herself. 

– I wrote a paper on care of heavy patients, which made me a "specialist" in the field. I have since become absorbed and specialized in the field and have also travelled around England and Europe as a lecturer, says Anita.     

We are getting fatter

– All prognoses indicate the same thing: we are getting heavier and that will put great demands on healthcare, says Anita Rush. 

Even though we have seen this growing trend for a long time, we have not prepared ourselves enough, according to Anita. She describes situations where holes have been sawed in walls and  patients who have been transported on lorries because there were no resources.

In her opinion it is going to cost money to prepare for receiving heavy patients. All of the equipment has to be dimensioned for handling larger patients, larger in both size and weight. 

It becomes especially evident when it is a question of transferring patients. Although one should never really lift a person manually, it happens all too often in healthcare. But when this is a person who weighs a lot, it immediately becomes an impossibility and aids become a must.  

Taught in Sweden

You have to choose aids adapted to the task of handling high patient weights. Furthermore, you have to have the knowledge to handle both the patient and the special situations which arise in the care of heavy patients. 

The urge to learn more is great, which Anita has noticed in her role as a teacher. – Together with Liko Competence, I have taught several courses in Sweden and in Europe, and have found it very pleasant and interesting, says Anita. 

The courses dealing with lifting of bariatric patients are popular and give a good knowledge basis. Furthermore, a large model is always present in order to give practical insights, too.

– The absolutely most important question is about risk assessment. That is the key to safe transfers and safe working conditions. A plan for eliminating the risks is incredibly important, declares Anita. 

According to Anita Rush, there are three principal factors to consider. 

  • People – how many employees are needed to take care of the patient and how should they work?  
  • Costs – for equipment needed to take care of large patients.  
  • Restrictions in the surroundings, for example, the width of corridors or how heavy a weight the floor can take.  

Required knowledge

– By looking at the three principle factors, you can fairly easily identify and eliminate immediate dangers and then plan for more long-term modifications and improvements, she says. 

Anita continues to talk about all of the things one must consider in risk assessment, such as everybody's having the same level of education and working with the same common routines.  

But then she stops after a long explanation of what to remember and  states with laughter that it is always difficult in the beginning.     

The first step is to acquire knowledge which enable us to analyze our organizations, eliminate risks and prepare us to deal with heavy patients. 

– We will all meet heavy patients sooner or later.

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